Concussions trending down as Hawkeyes focus on prevention

Hawkeye Headquarters

Player safety is a hot-button issue at all levels of football and concussion prevention is at the forefront of the discussion.

“This is a great game. We all want to make sure that this game continues and exists in the way that we know and love it,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

“We want to know about these things when they happen. We want to treat each injury as it comes,” said Dr. Andy Peterson, Iowa football’s team physician. “There’s about six concussions for 10,000 exposures in a sport like football and somewhere around 5 percent of your athletes would expect to get concussed in a given season.”

Data obtained from the University of Iowa shows the Hawkeyes were well above that level from March 2008 through February 2012. They averaged 20 concussions per year, which Peterson says was an outlier.

“Now going back about 8 or 10 years, we did seem to have more of these injuries,” Peterson said. “That happens by chance sometimes. These things do tend to come in clusters for whatever reasons.”

Documented concussions are down over 40 percent since then to a rate between six and seven per year.

“Right now, we’re at about the expected number of concussions as you would expect for a football program,” Peterson said.

Brian Ferentz played at Iowa in the early 2000s before becoming the team’s offensive coordinator in 2017. He said the program has always tried to limit head injuries by focusing on the basics.

“If you teach guys the proper fundamentals and techniques to do things, you should be limiting injuries,” Ferentz said. “There’s only one way to strike another human being and it’s with the near leg and your near shoulder. The helmet and your head aren’t involved with those things.”

“We all trust each other,” Peterson said. “We all work as a team. We’re all pulling in the same direction. I feel like we get a lot of buy-in from the coaching staff and from the student-athletes about the importance of these injuries.”

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