Study: Concussion rate in practices cut more than half after state implements new rule

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The American Journal of Sports Medicine has published a study that found a drastic decrease in concussions at practice in Wisconsin following a high school rule change in 2014 that cut full contact in practices significantly, according to WKOW.

Heading into the 2014 season the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association limited full-contact periods in practice to 75 minutes in the second week of the preseason, and then cut it further to 60 minutes per week in the weeks that followed.

The study found 86 football-related concussions per 1,000 practices before the rule change, and that number dropped significantly to just 15 per 1,000 practices after the rule change.

WKOW, who ran a story on the findings, shared that the rate of concussions that occurred during games stayed the same during the same time period.

Here's an excerpt on the findings from a scientist involved via WKOW:

“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.”

Many other state associations have made similar rule changes in an effort to make practices safer, including Michigan who, heading into this fall, mandated that coaches cut their live tackling periods down to just 30 minutes per week.

The findings from this study from the WIAA should prompt even more state associations to implement a cap on live-tackling during practices.

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