This year every team in the Lexington Youth Football League will be given an athletic trainer from USC. They aren't there just to check out game and practice related bumps and bruises, they are also tracking the impact of the hits on players.
Lexington, SC (WLTX) - Every football fan loves to see big hits- but some of those hits could be fatal.
There's been a lot of talk and research when it comes to concussions on the college and pro level, but not much when it comes to youth ages 6-15.
"One of the biggest problems with concussions is that once you have one, you are more likely to have another one in your lifetime. So, if you start getting them when you are eight years old, you are at a better chance of getting them throughout your career," said Miranda Jensen, Athletic Trainer with USC.
This year every team in the Lexington Youth Football League will be given an athletic trainer from USC.
They aren't there just to check out game and practice related bumps and bruises, they are also tracking the impact of the hits on players.
"About 10% of the kids in the leagues we are covering get injured, of those about 3% are concussions," said Jim Mensch with USC.
Mensch says on the high school and college level they see about a nine percent concussion rate.
Trainers put accelerometers behind the ears of some of the players. That information is saved and can be downloaded to a computer to track the force of a hit in practice or a game.
"These kids get hit and they get injured and we don't really have the information about the types of injuries they are sustaining and the long term potential effects. We just don't know, and that's why its so important to have this program here. "
The program is funded through a grant from USA Football and South Carolina is one of six states conducting national research.
Jensen says tracking the force of hits at a young age could save a life.
"If these kids are getting big hits and their brains are still at a stage of development, then that's something that we need to be aware of and see if we can help prevent and or make better guidelines for these athletes."
The Marcus Lattimore Foundation is also helping out with the program. Vernon Smith, Marcus' stepfather says it's all about educating parents, players and their coaches.
"A child could get a concussion and someone who doesn't know the symptoms can put them back out or he goes home and gets a hit in the next game and its fatal so its critical that we have trained people out here to help the kids," said Smith.