Environmental and Physiological Factors Affect Football Head Impact Biomechanics

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Abstract

Purpose

Recent anecdotal trends suggest a disproportionate number of head injuries in collegiate football players occur during preseason football camp. In warmer climates, this season also represents the highest risk for heat-related illness among collegiate football players. Because concussion and heat illnesses share many common symptoms, we need 1) to understand if environmental conditions, body temperature, and hydration status affect head impact biomechanics; and 2) to determine if an in-helmet thermistor could provide a valid measure of gastrointestinal temperature.

Methods

A prospective cohort of 18 Division I college football players (age, 21.1 ± 1.4 yr; height, 187.7 ± 6.6 cm; mass, 114.5 ± 23.4 kg). Data were collected during one control and three experimental sessions. During each session, the Head Impact Telemetry System recorded head impact biomechanics (linear acceleration, rotational acceleration, and severity profile) and in-helmet temperature. A wet bulb globe device recorded environmental conditions, and CorTemp™ Ingestible Core Body Temperature Sensors recorded gastrointestinal temperature.

Results

Our findings suggest that linear acceleration (P = 0.57), rotational acceleration (P = 0.16), and Head Impact Technology severity profile (P = 0.33) are not influenced by environmental or physiological conditions.

Conclusions

We did not find any single or combination of predictors for impact severity. Rotational acceleration was approaching significance between our early experimental sessions when compared with our control session. More research should be conducted to better understand if rotational accelerations are a component of impact magnitudes that are affected due to changes in environmental conditions, body temperature, and hydration status.

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