Rutgers University researchers have been working to reduce middle school football injuries with protective head gear and safer tackling techniques.

Researchers equipped a youth football team in Summit with practice helmets equipped with Guardian Caps, a padded cover on the outside of the helmet.

Dr. Robert Heary, a spine and mobility expert and director of the Center for Spine Surgery and Mobility at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said that players are more likely to take head blows during practices, not games.

He said the helmets coupled with techniques reduced the number of impacts.

"It's not using the head as a weapon to try and tackle people," Heary said. "Working on tackling, getting the shoulder in the tackle, having the shoulder hit the shoulder or hit the midsection ... rather than using the head as a weapon in tackling."

Researchers recorded an average of 41 impacts per player and about 20 minutes of full contact per practice but no concussions.

The study was published in the journal Neurosurgery.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5