Doctors study impact of hits on football players

August 5, 2011 2:55:27 PM PDT
Millions of student athletes are back on the field for football practice, and some of them are taking part in a helmet safety study.

Over time, hard hits during practice and games can cause concussions and brain injuries. If they play tackle football, neurosurgeons point out that starting from the age of seven players take thousands of hard hits.

Researchers from the Cleveland clinic are taking a closer look at the impact of those hits.

"We were fortunate enough to get the grant from the NFL charities, we are able to study kids, youth and football," said Dr. Ed Benzel, Chairman of Neurosurgery, Cleveland Clinic. "The youth's neck is not as evolved as an adult, and I think, you know, you see it when they put the helmets on."

"It felt heavy. Really heavy. It felt weird, too," said Stephen Schmidt, 11-year-old player.

In many cases, kids are using the same gear as the pros in the NFL. But they're a lot smaller and the helmets don't necessarily protect them.

The research being conducted right now may lead to the manufacture of helmets, shoulder pads and other protection that will better suit young players.

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