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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 14, 2017

Football’s Toll on Student Athletes

JAMA. 2017;317(6):577. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0100

On average, 3 high school or college football players die each year from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries that occur on the field. Most of the injuries happen during games rather than practice or conditioning sessions and result from tackling or being tackled, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study.

The data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that on-field brain and spinal injuries claimed 28 players’ lives from 2005 to 2014. Four played college football and 24 were high school players. All of the college deaths and 14 of the high school fatalities occurred during the last 5 years of the 10-year study period.