In a study that focused on youth hockey, new research suggests that bracing for an impending blow to the head could reduce the harm from the hit, CNN reports. In the study, players wore high-tech helmets that measured impact and compared that to game videos and with the number of injuries the players suffered during the season. According to the findings, being prepared for an imminent concussion helped offset more serious injuries.

“If players anticipate collisions they can better absorb the forces related to impact,” said Jason Mihalik, lead study author and assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “[Athletes] who don’t expect to get body checked are not able to tense the neck muscles to absorb force, and that can lead to a more severe impact to the head.”

Coaches need to train players to avoid the “calamitous” effects of being blindsided, according to Dr. Mihalik. The full study will be published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Governor McDonnell recently signed legislation to increase Virginia health protections for student athletes with suspected head injuries. Data from the National Center for Injury Protection and Control indicates that teenagers are the group at the highest risk for suffering a traumatic brain injury.


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