Sports Medicine

Football Players Experience Fewer Spine, Head Injuries In Helmet-Less Training Program: Study

By Jaleesa Baulkman

The recent release of Concussion has helped fuel the national debate surrounding the long-term effects head and spinal injuries have on football players. Perhaps surprisingly new research published in the Journal of Athletic Training suggests playing without a helmet may be what makes the sport much safer.

Based on first-year results of a two-year study, researchers at the University of New Hampshire find helmetless-tackling drills, called the HuTTTM intervention program, is effective in reducing head impacts by 28 percent in one season. The innovative technique alters tackling behavior and is meant to reduce risk of head injury. The study put the technique to the test among 50 football players at the University of New Hampshire, a NCAA Division I team.

The athletes were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a control group. The players in the intervention group performed five-minute tackling drills without their helmets and shoulder pads twice a week during pre-season, and once a week during football season. Drills consisted of repeatedly tackling into an upright pad, tackling dummy, or a teammate holding a padded shield, while the control group performed non-contact football skills at the same time, rate, and duration.

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