Monthly Archives: March 2013

New legislation helps coaches put safety first

brock blog april 2013Giving it your all on the football field has been a mantra for high school and college football players for generations. From “Remember the Titans” and “Friday Night Lights” to “The Blind Side,” pop culture has certainly embraced the concept, showing tired, battered student-athletes pushing past the odds to prevail in the end. But that’s not always the best course of action, especially when prospective concussions are involved.

In the past few years, research has proven that returning to the game after suffering a blow to the head can lead to permanent, significant damage. Still it can be challenging for players and coaches pressured to win games to know when it’s time for a student athlete to sit it out. That’s why the South Carolina House of Representatives just passed a bill requiring schools to have a concussion policy for all sports:  As this segment from WJBF-TV in Aiken County, South Carolina attests, new statewide legislation could put a dent in concussions.

“If you don’t tell them you have to do it, they’re going to take the easy path,” says Tim McLane, the Head Athletic Trainer at Georgia Regents Sports Medicine Center, in this news story. “They have enough pressure on them from administrators and the community, ‘you need to win and you need to do it right.’”

The new S.C. Bill requires coaches to go over the statewide concussion policy with players and parents, and if a player shows signs or seems out of it, they’re out of the game.  It is part of a national shift to better protect student-athletes. According to USA Football, 43 states and Washington, D.C., had passed laws by the end of 2012 protecting student-athletes from returning to play too soon after suffering the effects of a concussion. With South Carolina on board, we’re hoping all 50 states have these policies in places soon.

Do you know of a high school that considers safety as important as winning for its sports teams? Encourage them to enter the Brock Safety MVP Contest for the chance to win $5,000 worth of sports equipment for their school. The entry deadline has been extended to May 15, 2013!

 


Preventing Youth Sports Concussions: A Q&A with Chris Nowinski of Sports Legacy Institute

Chris Nowinski HeadshotWant to learn more about solving the concussion crisis from the front lines? Here’s the latest insight from Christopher Nowinski, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sports Legacy Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving the concussion crisis in sports and the military through medical research, treatment, and education and prevention.

Q1)  How is the concussion debate evolving when it comes to younger athletes at the high school and middle school level?

A: Everyone is finally paying more attention to the concussion issue at the high school and middle school levels, where the issue is much more important. It’s difficult for the media to focus on this level because high school athletes aren’t national icons like the pros, and any coverage they would provide inevitably would not get the same number of viewers, listeners, or readers. For us advocates and scientists, it’s important to remember that the people we have to work hardest to protect are the young athletes with more vulnerable brains, less understanding of their own bodies and the consequences of their actions, fewer medical experts to protect them, and less investment in safety equipment and infrastructure.

Q2)  What is the current state of concussion education in youth sports programs? How can we make it better?

A: We have made progress in concussion education, but still have a long way to go. The Centers for Disease Control has led the way in developing free online training programs, and thanks to concussion legislation, coaches and parents are now viewing them. The biggest gaps can be attributed to the fact that education is not mandated in many states for coaches below the high school level, and most importantly that we have yet to validate education programs for athletes younger than high school age. We don’t know if we can educate a 10-year-old about concussions and have it change their behavior. To learn about the best concussion education programs, visit www.concussionchecklist.org

 Q3) How can coaches, educators, parents and players help prevent youth concussions during practices and on game day?

A: Prevention is our best defense against the consequences of concussions. SLI is urging programs to minimize brain trauma exposure (for example, fewer hitting days in football practice, fewer headers in soccer practice). Eventually, we hope to quantify prevention through our Hit CountTM initiative (www.hitcount.org). We are learning that neck strength likely reduces energy transferred to the brain, so I anticipate a renaissance in neck training. Parents and players need to focus on contributing to a culture of respect for the head – never target the head, and heavily penalize players that do.

Q4) What role do playing surfaces have in causing or preventing concussions?

A: Playing surfaces play a larger role in prevention than we give them credit for. For example, some of the greatest forces to the brain occur from the head hitting the ice in hockey. Taking that logic forward, we can ensure that more forgiving grass and turf surfaces can limit concussions and subconcussive forces from the regular occurrence of a player’s head hitting the ground.

Q5)  What do you see emerging as the major concussion initiatives for youth sports over the next few years?

A: Over the next few years, we’ll be focusing a few different areas that I’ve mentioned, including better education, reform and rule changes in youth sports, with a specific focus on youth football, and lowering overall exposure through a Hit CountTM. My 2012 book Head Games shows that we have many, many of opportunities to improve outcomes for athletes, and the reality is that if we create and encourage games where children regularly collide, fall, and get injured, we need to try harder to protect them!

The mission of the Sports Legacy Institute is to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups. Visit www.sportslegacy.org to learn more. 


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Safety Contest
Holy Innocents’ Episcopalian School in Atlanta, Georgia Won $5,000 Worth of Sports Equipment in the Brock Safety MVP National Contest!
When the game clock hits zero and the final buzzer sounds, all that’s left are the stats. But win or lose, each team names one most valuable player for the game. What if safety was named the MVP in every game? What if safety was as important to each player as winning?

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