Parents worry about a child getting a concussion in the heat of competition, but they also need to be thinking about what happens during practices, a study finds.

High school and college football players are more likely to suffer a concussion during practices than in a game, according a study published May 4 in JAMA Pediatrics. Here are the numbers:

  • In youth games, 54 percent of concussions happened during games.

The University of New Hampshire Wildcats are heading into a do-or-die quarterfinal football game this week against the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

And whether they win or not, there's one thing you can say about the Wildcats: They are likely the only football team in America trying to reduce concussions by practicing without helmets.

Football has a concussion problem, from the National Football League down to Pee-Wee teams. And there are lots of efforts out there to fix it.

An i1 Biometrics concussion-detecting mouth guard in its charging cradle.
Wallis Watkins

To keep a better eye on head injuries in the past, the LSU football team has had concussion detectors installed in players’ helmets. This season, LSU became the first team in the NCAA to try high-tech mouth guards to measure hits.

With the fall season come littered leaves, new television lineups and the sport that can't stop stirring up controversy: football.

Rough tackles and concussions worry many parents. And no wonder. Research cited by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons suggests that more than a third of college football players have had one concussion and 20 percent have had more than one.

Doctors have gotten much better at diagnosing and treating sports-related concussions, which is a good thing since Americans suffer up to 4 million sports-related concussions a year.

But we're not so good at is following their advice.

Student athletes and parents sometimes balk at doctors' recommendations to avoid play until concussion symptoms are gone, or to cut back on schoolwork. Both have been shown to speed recovery, and getting another hit on a vulnerable brain increases the risk of long-term problems.