How Much Force Does It Take to Get a Concussion?

The amount of force needed to cause a concussion can vary, but even minor impacts can lead to brain trauma. Find out how much force it takes to get a concussion.

Concussions are a serious brain injury that happen from various impacts, like sports or falls. A concussion is caused by a fast back and forth movement of the head or by a hit to the body. This movement makes the brain bounce or twist in the skull, which affects brain cells.

Key Takeaways

  • Researchers estimate that any hit above 85g is likely to cause a concussion.1
  • A person might withstand about 4.5g in a roller coaster or fighter jet.1
  • In a car crash at 25 miles per hour, a test dummy hits the windshield at 100g.1
  • In football, the majority of impacts fall between 20g and 25g, with hits of 50g to 120g being common and some approaching 200g.1
  • Concussions can have both short-term and long-term effects on brain function and health.

Understanding Concussions

What is a Concussion?

A concussion happens when a bump, blow, or jolt makes your head or body move quickly.1 This sudden movement can make the brain shake or twist in your head. It leads to changes in the brain’s chemicals and can stretch or hurt brain cells.

Causes of Concussions

Many things can cause a concussion, like a brain injury or traumatic brain injury. It often happens from falls, sports hits, or other coup and countercoup injuries. In these events, the head and brain move fast.2 Concussions are serious and can harm your health.

An impact above 85g is estimated to likely cause a concussion.1
Roller coasters or fighter jets typically exert about 4.5g on a person.1
A car crash at 25 miles per hour can result in a hit to a test dummy at 100g.1
In football, the majority of impacts range between 20g and 25g, with some hits reaching between 50g and 120g and even up to 200g.1
On average, a high school football player sustains approximately 650 impacts per season.3
The maximum number of impacts a high school player can experience in a football season can exceed 2,000.3
A concussion typically occurs at approximately 90 to 100 g-force, equivalent to hitting one’s skull against a wall at 20 mph.3

Measuring Concussion Force

Researchers have looked carefully into the forces behind concussions. They found that any impact above 85g-force might cause a concussion.3 To understand, riding a roller coaster or flying in a jet gives about 4.5g-force. But, a 25 miles per hour car crash can reach 100g-force.3 In football, hits between 20g and 25g are common. Yet, hits from 50g to 120g happen, with some even up to 200g.3

G-force and Head Injuries

Learning about g-force and head injuries is very important. Studies show that the force of a hit doesn’t always match the concussion’s severity.3 There’s no proof that many small hits make a person more likely to get concussions from smaller ones.3 Instead, one big hit can lead to a concussion.3

Impact Thresholds for Concussions

The University of Michigan is leading research on concussions’ long-term effects on athletes.3 They have a lab studying real-world impacts to learn more about concussions.3 This work aims to improve prevention, care, and understanding of health in sports.3

g-force and concussions

StudyKey Findings
Bazarian JJ, McClung J, Shah MN, et al.Reported on mild traumatic brain injuries in the United States from 1998-2000.4
Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MMProvided an overview of the epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury.4
Eibner C, Schell TL, Jaycox LHStudied the care of war veterans with mild traumatic brain injury.4
Preiss-Farzanegan SJ, Chapman B, Wong TM, et al.Explored the relationship between gender and postconcussion symptoms following sport-related mild traumatic brain injury.4
Xydakis MS, Robbins AS, Grant GADocumented cases of mild traumatic brain injury in U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq.4

Effects of Concussions

Concussion symptoms include headaches and memory issues. They also cause mood and appetite changes. Some may find it hard to work or study.5 These issues last a long time, needing ongoing medical care.

Short-term Concussion Symptoms

Most people get better from concussions in 14 to 21 days. However, if not treated, recovery can take much longer, even months.5 Things like texting and playing video games can make symptoms worse. It’s best to avoid aspirin and NSAIDs for headaches. Choosing acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safer.5

Long-term Consequences

Schools should make a special plan for students with concussions. This might mean missing some school days and doing lighter mental work at first.5 Football, for example, has special rules to protect players. This includes education on concussions and tests to check brain function.

Also, some supplements can be good for the brain, like fish oils. But, we don’t know much about diets specifically for concussions.

In the long term, concussions can affect how we think and act. So, it’s very important to treat them carefully.53

Concussion Risk in Sports

Concussion is often talked about, especially among pros. But, most concussions happen to high schoolers. These are students who won’t play in college or the pros.6 Steven Broglio’s research uses helmet sensors to see how hard players get hit. On average, a high school football player has about 650 impacts each season. Some have over 2,000.7 Even without diagnosed concussions, some players show problems with their thinking in high school.7

Football and Concussion Rates

6About 3.8 million concussions happen every year in the U.S. from sports. The CDC thinks 5-10% of athletes will get a concussion in a season.6 Between 10% and 30% of these people take a longer time to recover. Over 90% don’t pass out from the hit.6 Symptoms might not show up right away; sometimes they start hours later.

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7Both linear and angular movements can cause head injuries in sports. To understand how these injuries happen, scientists use fancy x-ray machines and study dead people’s brain reactions to hits.7 Different types of head movements cause concussions in tests. They measure these in college football to help reduce the risk.

7 Scientists have come up with safety limits for brain injuries from these hits. They’ve also found that how often and how badly you get hurt can change based on if you’re a guy or a girl in college sports.

How Much Force Does It Take to Get a Concussion?

Researchers say that hits over 85g might cause a concussion.3 In football, a concussion happens at 90 to 100 g-force. This force is like hitting a wall at 20 mph with your head.3 Now, imagine being on a roller coaster, feeling about 4.5g. Or think about a car crash – at 25 mph, a dummy hits the windshield at 100g.3 Football hits usually range from 20g to 25g. Some might be as strong as 200g.3

The size of the hit doesn’t always show how bad a concussion might be.3 And getting lots of small hits doesn’t make a concussion likely if you get hit hard later.3 Just one strong hit can cause a concussion, according to Broglio’s study.3

These facts show us how easily a brain can get hurt. Even small hits can lead to concussions and traumatic brain injuries. The brain is very fragile.

Helmet Effectiveness

Debates continue about how effective helmets are for sports safety and preventing concussions. Even with advancements in helmet technology, they have limits. They can’t always stop brain injuries.8

Helmet Technology Advancements

Helmet companies have improved their products a lot. They now use better padding, materials that absorb shock, and they spread out impacts better.9 But, football helmet safety is still worrying. This is because athletes, even with the best helmets, still get concussions.8

Limitations of Helmets

Helmets can’t always prevent concussions fully. Concussions often happen from twists to the head, not just direct hits.9 Wearing a helmet might make players feel too safe. They could then play more rough, which is dangerous.8

Scientists are trying to fix these issues with helmets. They’re looking at new materials and ways to make helmets less risky.9 Yet, for now, athletes should play it safe. They should avoid using their heads in tackles. Using the arms and shoulders is safer.8

Concussion Prevention Strategies

Besides better helmets, many other strategies can lower the risk of concussions in sports.5 Important steps include educating coaches, using the right gear, and following clear steps to get back to playing.5

Teaching coaches is a key part in preventing concussions. They need to spot when an athlete might be hurt and pull them out right away.5 They should learn about what a concussion is, how to find it, and what to do next. They also need to know about testing before the season starts and how to help players get back to playing safely.

Right gear like helmets and mouthguards can make a big difference.5 Though helmets can’t stop all injuries, they do lower the chance of bad brain injuries.

It’s also crucial to have plans for how athletes can start playing again after a concussion.5 These plans should be slow and careful. They should include getting the okay from a doctor, helping with school work, and slowly adding more athletics.

A mix of coaching lessons, good gear, and safe plans for returning to sports can really cut down on concussions. Concussion prevention not only makes sports safer but keeps all players healthier.5

Concussion Management

It’s key to spot and handle concussions the right way for quick recovery.5 Symptoms include headaches, memory slips, and mood changes.5 Coaches, trainers, and parents must watch for these and pull the player out at once.

Identifying Concussion Symptoms

First up is knowing the signs and symptoms. They can be physical, like headaches and dizziness, or mental, like trouble focusing.5 Fast recognition is a must to stop more harm and speed up getting better safely.

Treatment and Recovery

The path to recovery from a concussion is slow.5 It usually starts with lots of rest. Then, it moves to small steps back into daily life.5 Tests before the season, like ImPACT, help track progress. They also help decide when it’s safe to play again.5 Laws in each state also give rules for going back to sports.5

Ignoring or not treating concussions right can make recovery very long.5 Doing it the right way from the start is best. It helps avoid problems later and makes sure recovery is smooth and safe.

Legal Implications of Concussions

Concussions, especially in sports, are getting more attention for their long-term effects. Players, mainly in football, are suing leagues. They claim the leagues didn’t protect them from head injuries well enough.10 These sports injury lawsuits point out serious gaps in managing player safety.11

Because of these lawsuits, all 50 states now have laws to make sports safer. These laws are aimed at avoiding brain injuries in young athletes. They require everyone involved in sports, like coaches and parents, to learn about concussions.10 Players can’t go back to a game the same day they get hurt. And, a healthcare provider must say they’re okay to play again.10

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But, putting these laws into action has not been easy. It’s hard to tell if all players are being treated the same. Some think the standard care isn’t being met because some tests aren’t done.12 The concussion liability issue highlights challenges in how to best care for athletes with head injuries.12

The whole legal situation around concussions in sports is tricky. It’s hard to prove that bad care led to health problems later. This is tough because we’re still learning a lot about concussions.1211

Key Legal ConsiderationsImplications
Concussion Legislation– Enacted in all 50 U.S. states10
– Focuses on education, removal from play, and healthcare provider clearance10
– Some states use the term “suspected concussion”10
Return-to-Play Protocols– Lack of proper documentation by athletic trainers12
– Debate over the use of baseline neuropsychological testing12
– Disagreement on meeting the standard of care12
Proving Causation– Challenges in linking alleged wrongful conduct to resulting damages12
– Ongoing scientific uncertainties12

Dealing with concussions in sports legally is a big deal. It affects everyone, from the athletes to the coaches and doctors. The key is to follow clear rules, keep good records, and always try to find ways to prevent and treat concussions better.101211

Concussion Research and Advancements

Scientists are always learning more about concussions. They’re finding better ways to prevent and treat them.4 They use modern tech like sensors in helmets, brain scans, and simulations to study concussions. They measure how the brain reacts to hits and figure out what causes them.

Ongoing Studies

There’s been a lot of research on concussions.4 Bazarian et al. (2005) looked at mild brain injuries in the U.S. from 1998 to 2000. Their findings were crucial.4 Langlois et al. (2006) surveyed the big picture of brain injuries’ effects.4

Preiss-Farzanegan et al. (2009) checked how gender affects brain injury symptoms after sports. They found some interesting connections.4 Xydakis et al. (2008) focused on injured U.S. soldiers. Their study provided important insights.4

Scientists also studied the mechanics of head injuries. McElhaney et al. (1995) explained skull fractures.4 Shreiber et al. (1999) looked at brain reactions to injury in rats. Their work was important.4

Raymond et al. (2009) explored skull durability against impacts.4 Yoganandan and Pintar (2004) inspected skull fractures closely. Their findings were valuable.4

Graham et al. (1995) studied various traumatic brain injuries. Their research shed light on the subject.4 Takhounts et al. (2003) stressed the need to understand brain tissue well.4 This shows how deep scientists have gone into the topic.

Future Directions

Our knowledge about concussions is always growing.13 With millions of sports-related concussions yearly in the U.S., better care is vital.13 It’s essential to improve how we prevent and treat these injuries.

The NFL is tackling the issue of head injuries. It’s looking at their long-term effects.13 Researchers are also studying CTE, a brain disease that affects players. This research is important for the health of athletes and others.

The NCMRR is focused on all kinds of brain injuries. This includes mild cases to severe ones with long-lasting effects.13 Their work aims to improve rehab and care for patients.

The NICHD has made tools to study head injuries. Their HIT system monitors impacts.13 They use data from football to make safer helmets.13 This protects players better. Their studies track how different positions in football receive impacts.13 This helps in designing better protection for athletes.

Impact on Youth Sports

The focus on concussions has mostly been on pro and college athletes. But, head injuries are a big deal in youth sports too. A study by Steven Broglio discovered that high school football players get around 650 hits a season. Some even get over 2,000 hits.3 This shows how young athletes in football are at risk for concussions and other serious head injuries.

A lot of U.S. youth get concussions from sports, as noted in a 2016 Pediatrics study.14 Other research has looked at how often high school football players in Ohio and Pennsylvania get concussions. This gives us key insights into how common head injuries are in this sport.14 Knowing how big the issue is helps us develop better ways to prevent and treat these injuries in young athletes.

Improving things like helmet tech, coaching methods, and rules for when players can return to the game are key steps. They help lower the chances of getting concussions in kids’ sports.3 By working on these areas, we can make sports safer for young players. This way, they can still enjoy playing while reducing the risks of brain harm in the long run.

Fall Risk Assessment

Concussions are not just a risk in contact sports. They can happen after a fall, especially in the elderly.5 Elderly people who fall and hit their head have a higher risk. This is often because of the medicine they already take.5

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Issues with balance and walking can lead older adults to fall more. This increases the chance of getting a concussion. Certain vision problems also play a role.5 They can make it hard for the elderly to see clearly and move safely.5

Some medicines for conditions like Parkinson’s or depression can make balance and coordination worse. This raises the risk of falling and hurting the head.

Other than the above, certain health issues can make falls more likely. For the elderly, this includes problems like neuropathy, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease.5 These problems affect balance and reflexes, making falls and head injuries more common.

Neurological Damage from Concussions

New research using advanced imaging shows how even mild concussions can hurt the brain. These studies prove that even small hits to the head can change how the brain works and looks.5

Brain Imaging Studies

Brain imaging is essential in understanding the brain changes after a concussion. Tools like fMRI, DTI, and PET scans show how concussions mess with brain activity and structure. This suggests long-term brain damage, even if there aren’t any clear signs.5

These neuroimaging tools highlight the hidden harm concussions can cause. They point to brain damage even if there are no obvious symptoms.5

Cognitive and Behavioral Changes

Concussions can mess with how our brain works and how we behave. They’ve been tied to memory issues, trouble focusing, and mood problems like depression and anxiety.515

These problems can change a person’s life and how they interact with others. It’s clear that we need better ways to treat and manage concussions.515

There’s a lot of evidence showing that concussions can have serious and lasting effects. By understanding how the brain changes, we can create better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat concussions. This could help lessen the impact of these brain injuries.515


Concussions are a severe and often downplayed type of brain injury. They can happen from many causes, like sports, falls, or head impacts.15 Even small hits can cause big brain issues. These issues can spark short-term problems or last long, leading to serious damage.15 Knowing about concussions and stopping them is crucial. They can really harm anyone, but especially young people who love sports.15

Our understanding of concussions is getting better because of research and new tech. It’s key to act for everyone’s safety in sports and other rough activities.15 This means using clear concussion rules, giving the right gear, and teaching coaches, players, and the public.5 We must all pitch in to prevent concussions. This way, we can make sure the future is safe and healthy for everyone.16


What is a concussion?

A concussion happens when there is a sudden hit to the head or body. This hit makes the head move quickly, causing the brain to shake or twist in the skull. This can change the brain’s chemistry and harm brain cells.

How much force does it take to get a concussion?

Scientists say impacts above 85g can cause concussions. For example, a roller coaster or a fighter jet makes you feel about 4.5g. When a car crashes at 25 miles per hour, a dummy hitting the windshield reaches 100g. In football, impacts between 20g and 25g are common, but some reach much higher.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Concussion symptoms vary but can include headaches, memory problems, mood changes, and appetite shifts. Work and school might become harder for those affected. The effects can last long, requiring ongoing medical care.

How effective are helmets in preventing concussions?

Helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries but are not guaranteed to prevent concussions. Advanced helmet designs now have better padding and materials. Yet, even with these improvements, high-impact collisions can still cause concussions.

What are some strategies for concussion prevention in sports?

Other than using helmets, preventing concussions in sports involves recognizing them early and teaching coaches how to manage them. There are also rules for when players can safely return after a concussion.

What are the legal implications of concussions?

The risk of lasting harm from concussions in sports has led to serious legal questions. Athletes are suing leagues, saying they didn’t protect them enough from head injuries.

How are researchers studying concussions?

Scientists keep learning more about concussions to make sports safer. They use high-tech gear like helmet sensors, brain scans, and simulations. This helps measure impacts, understand brain reactions, and find out who’s most at risk.

Are concussions a concern in youth sports?

Yes, youth sports are very focused on preventing concussions too. One study found that a high school football player might face up to 650 impacts per season.

Can concussions occur from falls?

Accidents like falls can lead to concussions, especially in older people. Issues like bad balance or eyesight, certain drugs, and brain conditions can make falls more risky.

How can concussions affect the brain long-term?

Modern brain scans have shown that concussions can change the brain even slightly. They can impact how parts of the brain talk to each other, harm the brain’s ‘wiring’, and decrease brain matter.

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