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CARE Consortium finds higher incidence of concussion, head impact exposure during football preseason

The latest findings from the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium show that disproportionately higher concussion rates and head impact exposure in college football occur during the preseason and practice — not regular-season games.

The largest and most comprehensive clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure in history, the CARE Consortium is funded by the NCAA and U.S. Department of Defense with broad aims to enhance the health and safety of NCAA student-athletes and military service members. It also serves as a valuable resource for youth sports participants and society at large.

“As a higher education association, we believe strongly in the power of research to inform decision-making and with it drive action,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The NCAA and its members have supported this monumental study to help answer many of the questions around the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of concussions. These latest findings provide new information for our members to modify rules while continuing education efforts for college athletes across the country.”

Researchers conducted this phase of the study using head impact sensor technology that measures head impact frequency, location and magnitude. Researchers found that across six Division I football programs from 2015 to 2019, almost half of the reported concussions and two-thirds of reported head impact exposure across all players occurred during preseason training.

“We are optimistic that the most recent CARE Consortium research findings will not only arm physicians and scientists with even better data on the prevalence and mechanisms of concussion and head impact exposure outside of regular-season play, but also shed light on the importance of better prevention and protection methods,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said.

“The Football Oversight Committee is keenly focused on making the sport as safe as possible,” said Shane Lyons, West Virginia University director of athletics and committee chair. “We plan to translate important, emerging research data into policies and recommendations that further our focus on football safety.”

Launched in 2014, the CARE Consortium involves participants on 30 campuses across the country, including most of the nation’s military academies.

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