WIAA rule limits full-contact practice in high school football, cuts concussion rate

WIAA rule limits full-contact practice in high school football, cuts concussion rate
iStock/JOE CICAK

A new study reports that the rate of sport-related concussions during high school football practice in Wisconsin decreased by 57 percent following a rule change limiting the amount and duration of full-contact activities during practice.

The study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health looked at whether the new rules passed by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association before the 2014 season reduced the rate of sport-related concussions compared to the previous two seasons.

The rule requires that there would be no full-contact activities during the first week of preseason practice. It also limits full contact to 75 minutes in the second week and just 60 minutes for each week beyond that, excluding games.

Players self-reported previous concussion and demographic information, and athletic trainers recorded athletic exposures, concussion incidence, and days lost for each sport-related concussion as a part of the study.

Researchers found that there were 15 sport-related concussions per 1,000 athletic exposures during practice in 2014 compared to 86 per 1,000 athletic exposures during the previous two years.

Opponents of the new rules argued that limiting contact would lead to poor technique, ultimately increasing the risk of injury during competition. However, the data did not support that argument.

A total of 2,081 high school football athletes participated in the study before the rule change, and 945 participated in 2014 after the rule change.

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