Catastrophic Football Injuries: 1984-2000

Principle Investigator: Frederick O. Mueller, PhD.

Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Title: Catastrophic Football Injuries: 1984-2000

Abstract: While the risks of catastrophic injuries in football are extremely low, these injuries are tragic events. For the purpose of this research project catastrophic injuries are defined as quadriplegia, paraplegia, and permanent brain damage. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research has collected catastrophic spinal cord injury data since 1977 and catastrophic brain injury data since 1984. The purpose of this research project is to advance the understanding of catastrophic injury causation in football by conducting a retrospective review of catastrophic spine and brain injuries in high school and college football from 1987-2001. Preliminary data has been collected on 116 spinal injuries and 65 brain injuries. Preliminary data include information when the case is entered into the data base, but no additional data thereafter. In a number of the cases the National Center did not receive any information concerning the details of the injury. The follow-up data will add important information to the data base and may lead to additional safety recommendations. The researchers plan to contact the injured players, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, physicians, and others in order to collect additional information concerning the injury. Specific information will include helmet information, activity at time of injury, medical first aid and care, current medical status, illegal acts, and improper skill technique. Requests will be made for copies of videotapes if available. This research design has proved effective in collecting retrospective catastrophic injury data from 32 pole vaulting injuries that occurred from 1982-1998. Descriptive statistics will be obtained for all variables to determine if there are gross patterns in the data that suggest avenues of prevention.