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Study gives peek into fatal high school football brain injuries


Traumatic brain injuries are difficult to overcome. Regardless of the cause, children who suffer from traumatic brain injuries can often have lifelong effects. In some cases, these children will die because of the injury. One recent study found that brain injuries that led to deaths in high school students playing football is on the rise.

It has long been known that hits to the head can lead to traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions. In serious cases, these hits can lead to death. Brain injuries and spinal cord injuries have led to two dozen high school football player deaths in recent years.

The study looked into incidents from 2005 through 2014. The majority of high school football player deaths were caused by players who took a direct hit during a tackle. No differentiation was made between the person being tackled and the person who was making the tackle. In fact, two positions were most commonly associated with fatal brain injuries — linebackers and running backs.

If you compare the results of this study to one that was done on incidents from 1965 through 1974, you will see that the death rate has decreased dramatically. In fact, the earlier study included four times as many deaths as the more recent study.

Even though the death toll is down from what it was in the earlier study, there is a slight uptick in deaths from head injuries in high school football since the number hit a low in 2010. One thing that was interesting to note was that in about a fifth of the deaths, the player had suffered a concussion less than a month before the fatal hit.

Source:, “Brain-Injury Deaths In High School Football Players Rising,” Jan. 07, 2017

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