MADISON (WKOW) — A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found concussions suffered during high school football practice in Wisconsin decreased by 57% following a rule change by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) which limited the amount of full-contact in which players could participate.
The WIAA rules, implemented ahead of the 2014 season, prohibited full-contact practices during the first week of preseason and limited it to 75 minutes in the second week and 60 minutes per week thereafter.
“Our analysis shows that targeted rule changes can have a beneficial effect on lowering the risk for concussions,” said Tim McGuine, a scientist in the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health. “It’s imperative that we identify strategies that keep our student-athletes safe while still maintaining the integrity of the game, and this particular measure appears to do both.”
Researchers compared the concussion rate of 2,000 high school football players in the two years before the rule change with that of over 900 players the season after the change.
The study found 86 football-related concussions per 1,000 practices before the rule change and only 15 per 1,000 after the change went into effect.
Opponents of the new rules argued that limiting contact during practice would lead to poor technique, ultimately increasing the risk of injury during competition, according to a press release from the School of Medicine and Public Health.
The new study flies in the face of those arguments as the rate of concussions sustained during games stayed the same.