Linear and angular head acceleration measurements in collegiate football

J Biomech Eng. 2009 Jun;131(6):061016. doi: 10.1115/1.3130454.


Each year, between 1.6x10(6) and 3.8x10(6) concussions are sustained by athletes playing sports, with football having the highest incidence. The high number of concussions in football provides a unique opportunity to collect biomechanical data to characterize mild traumatic brain injury. Human head acceleration data for a range of impact severities were collected by instrumenting the helmets of collegiate football players with accelerometers. The helmets of ten Virginia Tech football players were instrumented with measurement devices for every game and practice for the 2007 football season. The measurement devices recorded linear and angular accelerations about each of the three axes of the head. Data for each impact were downloaded wirelessly to a sideline data collection system shortly after each impact occurred. Data were collected for 1712 impacts, creating a large and unbiased data set. While a majority of the impacts were of relatively low severity (<30 g and <2000 rad/s2), 172 impacts were greater than 40 g and 143 impacts were greater than 3000 rad/s2. No instrumented player sustained a clinically diagnosed concussion during the 2007 season. A large and unbiased data set was compiled by instrumenting the helmets of collegiate football players. Football provides a unique opportunity to collect head acceleration data of varying severity from human volunteers. The addition of concurrent concussive data may advance the understanding of the mechanics of mild traumatic brain injury. With an increased understanding of the biomechanics of head impacts in collegiate football and human tolerance to head acceleration, better equipment can be designed to prevent head injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration / adverse effects*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain Concussion*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Football / physiology*
  • Head Movements / physiology*
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Sports Equipment