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Efficacy of a football rule to prevent concussion
  1. Florian Beaudouin1,
  2. Claus Reinsberger2,
  3. Tim Meyer1
  1. 1Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Sports Medicine, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany


Objective Although the incidence of concussion per athlete exposure is relatively low in comparison to high risk sports, absolute numbers of concussions are considerable in football, because of its high popularity and high number of athletes. In 2006, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) employed a modification of football rules to protect the brain and reduce head injuries. Starting during the season 2006/2007, an attack towards the head (e.g. by elbow check) was punished more consequently and can even lead to an elimination from the game, if performed on purpose. The objective of our study is to examine, whether the rule change resulted in a lower incidence of concussion in professional German football.

Design Based on data of a German football magazine (obtained by in depth coverage on each club of the German Bundesliga), a database of all head injuries in the German football Bundesliga between 2000/2001 and the current season was created. The incidence of concussion during six years before and six years after the initiation of the rule change was then calculated and compared. Furthermore, the number of missed days of practice and/or games and the mechanism of injury (based on player’s position and club) was analysed.

Main results The incidence of concussion during the seasons 2006/07 – 2012/13 is lower than the incidence during 2000/01 – 2005/06.

Conclusions A rule change with the intention to punish attacks to the head more consequently to protect the brain might be an effective means to prevent concussion in football.

Competing interests This work was funded by a grant of the Federal Institute of Sports Science (Federal Ministry of the Interior).

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