The effect of play type and collision closing distance on head impact biomechanics

Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Jan;40(1):90-6. doi: 10.1007/s10439-011-0401-7. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Football accounts for 55% of concussions to collegiate athletes. In the National Football League, players are at a greater risk for concussion during kickoffs and punts compared to rushing and passing plays. The two primary purposes of this study were to determine if game-related special teams head impacts were greater in magnitude than head impacts sustained during offensive and defensive plays, and to better understand the effect closing distance between players (short vs. long) had on head impact magnitude. Collegiate football players were enrolled in a prospective cohort study assessing head impact biomechanics during special teams, offensive, and defensive collisions; long closing distance (≥ 10 yards) and short closing distance (<10 yards) impacts were also studied. Data were analyzed using random intercepts general linear mixed models. Long closing distance collisions generated more severe head impacts than short closing distances. Collisions occurring on special teams plays over long closing distances were most severe while collisions occurring on special teams and defensive plays over short closing distances resulted in the least severe impacts. Decreasing the impact severity of collisions in collegiate football may be accomplished by reducing the closing distance prior to impact.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cohort Studies
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rotation
  • Sports Equipment
  • Telemetry
  • Universities