Working Together to Prevent Injuries in Youth Sports

victoria2We’ve all been there: getting hit or knocked down during a game and saying “I’m fine!” instead of taking a seat on the bench and determining whether or not we are really injured. No player wants to let the team down or feel weak for admitting that he or she is hurt and in need of a break, but this mentality can actually hurt a player even more down the line. According to safekids.org, a youth sports injury that results in a visit to the emergency room occurs once every 25 seconds. This adds up to about 3,397 children in the hospital every single day. Safe to say, youth sports injuries are not uncommon and need to be taken seriously. That number would be even higher if more players were willing to admit their pain and take the necessary steps to find out how to heal it, but this would at least prevent further damage or repeated injuries of the same kind from happening. 54 percent of athletes said they have played injured, and 42 percent of athletes have admitted to “hiding or down-playing an injury during a game so they could keep playing”, according to safekids.org. This practice of hiding injuries needs to be curbed so that children stop repeatedly playing on an injury, and putting themselves in even more danger.

At the beginning of the season, players need to be told by the coach to come forward and be honest if they are feeling less than okay and ground rules should be set to agree on how the team will approach injuries. It also becomes the parents’ responsibility to report to the coaches in the event that their child has admitted to feeling pain, or has been diagnosed by a doctor and given specific instructions about how to treat an injury. Similarly, the coach needs to be open with the parent and inform them that their child has been injured during a practice or a game so that the parent can take the necessary steps to keep their child healthy and safe. Considering that 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices, according to youthsportssafetyalliance.org, it is clear that many injuries occur when the parent is not around to witness them, making communication necessary.

bundleWhile the responsibility does lie on the player, we cannot always trust that children will take an injury as seriously as they should or that they will be open with both their coach and parent and admit to one. According to safekids.org, less than half of coaches are certified and know how to prevent and recognize sports injuries, while 53 percent have said they’ve felt “pressure from a parent or player to put an athlete back in the game” after an injury. To make the playing field a safer place, coaches need to be certified or, at the very least, aware of the health issues of their players, just as parents need to focus on their children’s health rather than their goal count.

What all of this comes down to is communication. The gaps between players and parents, players and coaches, and parents and coaches leave room for more harm. A player who tells his parents that his ankle hurt during the last practice and gets a note from the doctor that he should skip gym class should not be playing in their soccer game the next day. The player might not want to tell their coach about this for fear of being benched, but the parent should recognize the importance of resting for their child’s safety and keep the coach informed. Similarly, if a player was complaining of dizziness during practice and had to sit out, the coach should report this to the parent so that they can go to a doctor or keep an eye out for their child. If a coach or a parent doesn’t know there is something wrong with the child, then they have no way of fixing the problem. Where communication stops is where injuries can go from bad to worse. The more aware that parents and coaches are about a player’s injuries, the more help and support they can give. When players, parents, and coaches work together, athletes are kept safer and the team becomes stronger as a whole.

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Know signs of heat stroke

Temperatures above 90 degrees can cause heat stroke, a serious condition where the body temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher, according to mayoclinic.org. Heat stroke symptoms include flushed skin, racing heart rate, vomiting, throbbing headache, dizziness, fainting, confusion — and lack of sweating, despite the heat. If left untreated, it can lead to unconsciousness and death.

If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately.

While waiting for help to arrive, do everything possible to cool the person: move them into shade or air conditioning; remove unnecessary clothing; spray with a garden hose, place in a shallow tub or cold water, and apply ice packs to the person’s head, armpits and groin.

To avoid heat stroke, drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks and rest in the shade when needed.

Not drinking enough water and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can both contribute to heat stroke. High-risk individuals include the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Excessive exercise should be limited on hot days.

Animals are also at risk for heat stroke. Pets respond differently to heat than humans do, losing most of their heat through their feet, according to the humansociety.org. For instance, fans don’t cool a pet as effectively as they do humans. If pets must be outside in the heat, be certain they have shade and plenty of water. Limit their exercise, and avoid contact with asphalt and concrete.

Source: “Know Signs of Heat Stroke.” Valley Journal:. N.p., 30 June 2015. Web. 30 June 2015.


Is the sunshine making you ill? 6 signs you have heatstroke – and what you can do about it

By CLAIRE SPREADBURY

Wimbledon’s hottest day ever is predicted for this Wednesday, with temperatures expected to soar to a sweaty 36C in London, while the rest of the country will hardly be left in the shade. In short, it’s going to be hot, hot, hot.

But before the excitement peaks and is replaced with us all moaning about the boiling conditions, it’s important to remember there’s a more serious side to the sunshine.

If you’re feeling under the weather as the heat rises – make sure you know what to do.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is far more common than heatstroke and isn’t as serious – but it can still make you feel pretty lousy, and can develop into heatstroke if you don’t do anything about it, so it’s important to take action at this stage.

“Heat exhaustion is when a person experiences fatigue as a result of low blood pressure and blood volume, from being exposed to prolonged periods of heat,” says Dr David Smart MBChB, founder, director and lead GP of The Smart Clinics.

“Symptoms include headache, nausea, faintness, very hot skin, extreme weakness, heavy sweating, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and urinating less.

“To prevent heat exhaustion, take simple precautions; stay out of direct sunlight at the hottest times of the day, remain well-hydrated at all times, take water with you on car or train journeys, avoid extreme physical exhaustion, keep yourself cool with water sprays or showers and never leave anyone in a parked car.”

Don’t ignore it

Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers adds: “If you have heat exhaustion, then moving to a cool place, drinking water to rehydrate and removing layers of clothes to cool the body down should help within 30 minutes. However, if you’re in a vulnerable group (under two, over 70, diabetic, have kidney, liver or circulation problems) or have developed heatstroke, call 999, as this is a medical emergency.”

What is heatstroke?

“Heatstroke is when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high as a result of gaining more heat than it can cool down,” says Dr Smart. “It’s caused by dehydration. If you have been hot for a long period of time and you start you start to feel unwell, move to a cooler place and drink water, small amounts at first, and pay attention to children and the elderly, as they are particularly susceptible.”

What to do if you have heatstroke

If you think you – or someone you know – is developing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help, advises Dr Smart.

“Left untreated, heatstroke can lead to serious medical complications, such as seizures and organ failure. People can die, particularly if they’re vulnerable.”

If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 straight away, adds Preston. “Whilst waiting for the ambulance, you should attempt to cool the person by moving them to a cool area, opening any windows and giving them water to drink.”

What about sunstroke?

Though they sound similar, heatstroke and sunstroke are very different.

“Sunstroke is a type of heatstroke caused by sitting in the sun for prolonged periods and getting burned,” says Chalmers.

“You will also suffer from dehydration, however, heatstroke is caused by high temperatures that cause dehydration, therefore you can get heatstroke by staying inside or in the shade.”

Source: Spreadbury, Claire. “Is the Sunshine Making You Ill? 6 Signs You Have Heatstroke – and What You Can Do about It.” BT.com. N.p., 29 June 2015. Web. 29 June 2015.


Athletes’ best bet is to only drink when thirsty

By STEPHEN FELLER

WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) — New guidelines from an international panel of experts on sports-related health suggest that the best bet for athletes concerned about dehydration is to drink when they are thirsty, lest they over-hydrate their bodies and develop a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, or EAH.

EAH occurs when drinking too much overwhelms the kidney’s abilty to excrete the excess water and sodium in the body becomes diluted, causing cells to swell, which can be life-threatening. The greater threat than dehydration, researchers said, is over-hydration.

“The risks associated with dehydration are small,” Dr. James Winger, a sports medicine physician at Loyola University Medical Center, said in a press release. “No one has died on sports fields from dehydration, and the adverse effects of mild dehydration are questionable. But athletes, on rare occasions, have died from overhydration.”

Winger was one of several experts to gather at the 2015 CrossFit Conference on Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia in Carlsbad, Calif., in February to revamp guidelines on sports-related hydration concerns.

“Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration,” the researchers wrote in the new guidelines. Because an athlete can afford to lose 3 percent or so of body weight due to water loss during competition, slight dehydration should not affect athletic performance.

Hydration guidelines have long been based on consuming about 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes while exercising, and many athletes are pushed by coaches to drink more fluids to avoid dehydration, as well as muscle cramps and heat stroke. Neither cramps nor heat stroke are caused by dehydration, according to Winger.

“The evidence is firm that every single death from exercise-associated hyponatremia is avoidable,” Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, an associate professor of exercise science at Oakland University, said in a press release. “We can consciously control the amount of fluid that enters our body and must reconsider, re-educate and reinforce appropriate fluid intake and intravenous fluid guidelines.”

Source: Feller, Stephen. “Athletes’ Best Bet Is to Only Drink When Thirsty.” UPI. N.p., 29 June 2015. Web. 29 June 2015.


Worker hydration: How much hydration is enough?

By ALSIE NELSON

Water is an essential nutrient for all living things. It makes up 70 percent of planet Earth and 60 percent of our bodies. It keeps us functioning at optimal performance levels by regulating our core body temperature, carries key nutrients to vital organs and flushes internal toxins. We simply cannot survive without it.

Whether walking to your car or performing a strenuous task at the jobsite, your body is always working to maintain a balance and sustain its core temperature. And because our bodies are constantly exposed to elements that increase body heat and deplete hydration levels, workers must be extra careful when working in extremely hot or extremely cold conditions. Not only do extreme temperatures take a toll on the body, they make workers way more susceptible to becoming dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea, dizziness or confusion
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Hot, dry skin

Serious risks are associated with dehydration, including a heat-related illness. The HRI spectrum can range from heat rash to heat stroke and even death. So, how much hydration is enough?

As a general guideline, the recommended amount of water intake is one quart per hour of active work or exercise for the average adult. That is the equivalent of 128 ounces (3.78 liters) every four hours at minimum. It is also suggested that the water intake be distributed over a period of time, such as every 15 minutes per shift.

However, every worker is different. The exact amount of hydration intake depends on the individual. It’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Do any underlying health conditions exist? Older individuals and those who suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease have different hydration requirements. Taking medications can also alter the body’s tolerance to environmental factors.
  • What is the level of physical exertion? As the body performs a task, even a basic one like breathing, it loses hydration.
  • What type of environment is the work being performed in? HRIs are not exclusive to outdoors as some may think. Many indoor workers are exposed to extreme heat, leaving them susceptible to dehydration and heat stress.
  • Is the temperature hot? Is there radiant heat coming from machinery and other power sources? If the answer to either of these is yes, then it is very likely that any workers nearby are managing the heat by sweating – and therefore losing moisture. These individuals will need more fluid replacement.
  • Is the environment new to the individual? The human body is very capable of adapting to its environment but time and acclimatization is required in both hot and cold environments.

Above all, prevention is key to minimizing the risks associated with the effects of dehydration. An employer should consider implementing the following simple strategies to promote hydration in the workplace:

  • Have water easily and readily available.
  • Provide incentives such as reusable water bottles and/or hydration packs.
  • Set up shelter and enforce breaks for all employees.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment to help workers keep their cool.
  • Education and training are key to prevention and preparedness.

Source: Nelson, Alsie. “Worker Hydration.” Worker Hydration. N.p., 29 June 2015. Web. 29 June 2015.


High School Coaches Know Concussion Signs but Don’t Act

By MEGAN BROOKS

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) — High school coaches have a good understanding of the signs and symptoms of concussion, but they often don’t make the right management decisions, a new survey shows.

That’s where athletic trainers come in, said Meredith Madden, athletic trainer at Boston College who did the survey and reported the results June 26 at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) annual convention.

“Most of our coaches are there for a very specific job description — to coach. Athletic trainers are important members of the team and at the end of the day it’s our job to keep the kids safe. Not every hit to the head will result in a concussion, but that is up to a qualified athletic trainer to determine, not a coach,” Madden noted in an interview with Reuters Health.

Madden and colleagues got 104 Massachusetts’ public high school coaches to complete an online survey to test their knowledge of concussion signs and symptoms and management. They also interviewed 12 coaches by phone or in person.

Most of the coaches correctly identified symptoms of confusion (94%), headache (94%), dizziness (91%) and blurred vision (90%) as indicators of a concussion. Most also identified loss of consciousness (87%), nausea (82%) and amnesia (75%) as indicators of concussion, but fewer than half (42%) recognized sleep problems as a sign of concussion.

About one in 10 associated non-concussion symptoms as primary indicators of concussion, which suggests that they are unable to distinguish concussion symptoms from other injuries and lack in-depth knowledge or understanding about concussion, the researchers say.

Over 90% of coaches knew appropriate management strategies in typical concussion scenarios, but when faced with atypical scenarios, only 57% would appropriately remove an athlete from play.

“The coaches had really good knowledge about signs and symptoms of concussion,” Madden told Reuters Health. “But when we looked at their overall management, they often weren’t making the right decisions. This suggests that they know what to look for, but they don’t necessarily know what to do, or they are uncertain, or there is some other conflict that is coming into play.”

Larry Cooper, head athletic trainer, Penn Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pennsylvania, and Chair of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Secondary School Committee, told Reuters Health, “We have come a long way in educating coaches and they certainly have increased their knowledge of concussions and certain things to look for but we still have a ways to go.”

This survey “underlies what we have been trying to push all along and that is to have an athletic trainer in every secondary school,” said Cooper, who wasn’t involved in the survey.

“With concussion evaluation and management, or any other type of injury, the athletic trainers are the health care professional that can do it, regardless of the sport, the event, the score, and provide even-keel medical evaluation,” he said.

He added that coaches’ ability to evaluate an athlete “with a neutral mind is sometimes lacking.”

“Athletic trainers are the ones who should decide whether an athlete stays in the game or doesn’t. Any coach in their right mind would not want to take that on, just because that is not what they are trained to do. We’re the ones providing the health care, the coaches are the ones doing the coaching,” Cooper said.

Madden added, “We all want to make athletics safe, because they are a good vehicle for our students for character development and for scholarships. We have qualified athletic trainers to assess and provide care for our student athletes.”

Source: Brooks, Megan. “High School Coaches Know Concussion Signs but Don’t Act.” High School Coaches Know Concussion Signs but Don’t Act. N.p., 28 June 2015. Web. 28 June 2015.


Football coaches prep for a safe season

BY DAVID KELLY

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) –USA Football conducted a Heads Up Football Player Safety Coach clinic Saturday at Salpointe Catholic School.

Lancers head football coach Dennis Bene helped lead the seminar which included coaches representing high school programs and youth leagues throughout the state.

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to a better and safer game, encompassing USA Football’s accredited Level 1 Coach Certification Course; Heads Up Tackling and Heads Up Blocking techniques; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; heat and hydration; and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

After completing the workshop, Player Safety Coaches will oversee their organizations’ implementation of the USA Football program, monitoring practices and games throughout the season.

Source: Kelly, David. “Football Coaches Prep for a Safe Season.” – Tucson News Now. N.p., 28 June 2015. Web. 28 June 2015.

 

Local coaches get tips on how to protect athletes from the heat

By RACHEL ROLLAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the Charlotte region under a heat wave, high school football coaches throughout the area are learning how to keep players safe.

USA Football is set out on teaching high school coaches the same safety techniques that are used in the NFL.

Heat and hydration go hand-in-hand.

” No question about it I think in the last two weeks it’s been 97, 98, and 99, and humidity is up, hydration is paramount of importance right now,” Former high school coach Jimmy Wallace said.

Coach Wallace would know, he was on the field in South Carolina for 40 years, now he’s a master trainer for USA Football hosting “Heads Up Football” player safety clinics.

“Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to a better and safer game, encompassing USA Football’s accredited Level 1 Coach Certification Course; Heads Up Tackling and Heads Up Blocking techniques; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; heat and hydration; and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.”

Coach Wallace points out that communication is key, especially with mom.

“Mom makes a lot of decisions at home and you want to make sure they’re hydrating at home taking care of themselves and we’re going to give them all the water they need at practice,” Wallace said. He says the number one mission is to enhance player safety.

Coach Wallace hopes football will pave the way for safety in all sports.

Source: Rollar, Rachel. “Local Coaches Get Tips on How to Protect Athletes from the Heat.” USA Today High School Sports. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.


Football causes most concussions? Think again

By EDEN OTERO

In December 2014, Ohio State University football player Kosta Karageorge went missing.

He left a note for his mother, and after a week of searching, his body was found in a dumpster near his apartment. Karageorge died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It was later determined that Karageorge had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, an incurable degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of brain trauma.

Football has been the sport most talked about in connection with concussion and brain trauma studies. With its aggressive and physical nature, it comes as no surprise that head injuries are all too frequent in the sport.

But behind Karageorge’s devastating story is another. One that ended less tragically but brings to light another sport riddled with concussions and brain trauma.

Whitney Brydge, a former Stuarts Draft goalkeeper and current graduate assistant coach at Salem International University, was forced to forgo her senior season at SIU because of a concussion.

Sports like girls soccer have been calculated to result in 33 concussions per 100,000 player outings and wrestling has about 24 concussions per 100,000 player outings a year, according to The Head Case Co. In comparison, the most recent study — completed in 2012 — shows that at least one football player sustains a concussion for every game played.

On the same note, while soccer has fewer concussions per year when compared to football, the severity of concussions sustained in soccer is significantly higher.

“Recent studies show that soccer has surpassed football,” said neurologist Peter A. Puzio from Augusta Health Neurology. “As soccer grows in popularity, so does the incidence of concussion. There’s not a perfect a number because it all depends on the severity of each one, but there is a cumulative effect of concussions. One is bad, but it depends on the severity of the concussions.”

At the same time, he says, football has seen measures taken to reduce incidence of concussions. It has also become more common for football players to quit the sport for fear of developing CTE.

Popular notion

And while many quit football, some athletes moved on to other sports such as soccer, or wrestling — both of which many people believe are less dangerous. But recent studies show they are just as risky as football.

Brydge’s first concussion happened in her sophomore year of high school. Then 15, Brydge took a week off from playing.

“It was one of those weekend things,” Brydge said. “I had headaches over the weekend, but when I got back to school on Monday, I was ready to play, but I still had to sit out a week.”

Brydge’s second concussion was the one to end her playing career.

In her final game at SIU, Brydge’s memory of the day and even weeks after the game are hazy. Her collision with an attacker from the opposing team finished her time as a player for the team as she worked for months in rehab.

According to Puzio, it’s all too common to knock heads with players when going for the ball.

“All you have to do is watch the World Cup and see why,” Puzio said. “You see these headers; all these people have to hit the ball with their head. Of course the head is not protected in anyway when they head a ball that’s going 60 miles per hour.”

In wrestling, athletes are pushed and shoved to the ground, which can often result in athletes smacking their heads on the mat.

“There is a lot of acceleration and deceleration injuries in wrestling so the brain can still be injured even if you’re not directly hitting your head,” Puzio said.

In the atmosphere surrounding high school and college athletics, professionals and parents have argued with coaches over how to prevent and treat concussions.

Less aggressive

Arguments from helmet changes to requiring less contact have been thrown out, but Puzio said it ultimately comes down to playing less aggressive sports.

“As long as you’re going to have traumatic sports where heads are hitting solid objects or the ground, there is no way to prevent that type of injury,” Puzio said. “It’s like bruising a piece of fruit when it’s young. It’s going to have that bruise even as it matures.”

But Brydge, now 22, hasn’t stopped working with the sport she’s been passionate about since she was 7. For Brydge, her story has a happy ending — one that can help future soccer players at SIU.

“Now I can help people prevent hurting themselves,” Brydge said. “The concussion made me realize that I definitely need to know my surroundings when I play. That’s the thing with soccer, you have to be aware of what’s around you.”

Source: Otero, Eden. “Football Causes Most Concussions? Think Again.” The News Leader. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.


Concussions: A headache of a problem – part three and a look into equipment

By TRAVIS M. SMITH

The days of junior high athletes receiving used, battered and oversized equipment passed down from the high school team are long gone. However, as coaching staffs around the country attempt to provide their players with the most sophisticated, concussion-reducing equipment available, they are running into a major roadblock – helmet manufactures.

Riddell, a leading helmet distributor, urges athletes to “use the proper sports equipment including personal protective equipment (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards),” and that “in order for equipment to protect you, it must be: the right equipment, worn correctly and used every time you play.”

What the company does not tell the athlete – or the parent, is that using any aftermarket protective or preventative equipment voids any and all warranty provided by Riddell. The same goes for Schutt, and all other helmet manufactures.

Brownwood Head Coach Chuck Howard and Dr. Rance A. Boren encountered this exact problem last summer when they began looking into possible concussion-reducing additions to the traditional helmets issued.

“Anything you put into the helmet, any sort of insert or modification, voids the warranty,” Boren said, “because the helmet people look at it and say, ‘we haven’t tested that and we have no idea what is going to happen now that you have altered our product.’ You have the poor coaches who are trying to keep up with the latest technology and do the best for their kids who don’t know where to turn.”

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) was formed in 1969 to be the “leading force in the effort to improve athletic equipment and, as a result, reduce injuries” in football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and polo across the NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, and various other regulatory bodies.

According to the NOCSAE website:

“A manufacturer has the right, under the NOCSAE standards, to declare its certification void if its product is altered in any way. Accessories can modify mass, change the center of gravity, and potentially interfere with the performance of the helmet system in dispersing impact energies. A manufacturer may engage in additional certification testing of the new model and certify the new model with the add-on product, if it chooses to do so.”

As of today, there has not been a single helmet manufacturer choose “to do so.”

The Texas State 7on7 Association – one of the leading high school 7on7 associations in the country, has just recently adopted one of the numerous products on the market claiming to be concussion reducing. According to a press release issued on June 17, all 128 teams in the 2015 Texas 7on7 State Championships will use the Unequal Halo manufactured by Unequal Technologies on July 9-11 in College Station.

The association claims that the product – which fits much like a headband, will “improve player performance and offer added protection.”

“7on7 is not meant to be a contact sport, but we all know collisions happen,” Vice President of Unequal Technologies Derek Gove said of the company’s product in the press release. “Halo soft head protection is exactly what the sport has needed to help improve player safety and performance without affecting the spirit of the non-impact game.”

The headband uses several military-grade materials in its multiple layers, and is certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). One of the materials – TriDur, is said to be “5x stronger than steel,” and has, “the virtually unmatched ability to absorb and disperse high impact energy.” The description of the headband goes on to claim that the, “Halo has been shown to reduce peak accelerations and peak g-forces significantly,” in head-to-ground impacts.

These kinds of claims are ones that Boren disagrees with.

“It doesn’t change the concussion mechanism,” Boren said. “If you get hit and become concussed, it is because of a direct hit and impact to your skull. The idea behind the bulletproof products is to reduce the point focus of the energy so it doesn’t hurt as much.”

“If you get hit with a bullet while wearing a bullet proof vest, it will still knock you down and leave a bruise,” Boren explained, “it just didn’t go through you. Even if the pain on your scull is reduced, […] your brain still bounced off of the walls of your skull. While the hit itself was dissipated across the surface of your skin, the force of the blow still traveled laterally across your brain.”

Every year, Brownwood ISD buys between 12-15 new sets of shoulder pads, and just two years ago bought brand new helmets, according to Howard. He also confirmed that all helmets and shoulder pads are reconditioned every two years in accordance with manufacturers requirements and state law.

Howard also assured that every coaching staff at BISD takes concussions –and concussion protocols, very serious; however, he and Boren both agree that there are, “some people out there who over exaggerate concussions to sell products sometimes.” Boren used an example of the FDA reprimanding a company last year because its product claimed to have, “concussion-reducing technology.” The company was forced to re-label its product after the FDA found that they, “had no clinical data to show that it actually reduced concussions,” Bored said.

Concussions go well beyond football, in fact, Boren believes the athletes most at risk are the ones without the proper helmet, padding, and neck muscle strength. Yes, football players are – for the most part – bigger, faster and stronger than most other athletes, but they are much better equipped than other sports, according to Boren. A soccer goalie who bangs his head into the post, two soccer players colliding while going up for a header, a baseball player getting hit by a line drive, or even a basketball player falling to the ground are all likely concussion recipients.

“Most of the concussions I see that are bad, are from other sports,” Boren said. “They are completely unprotected. They have no head padding, they are falling over backwards, and their head hits like a melon. I use football as an example, but football is by no means the only place a concussion can happen.”

In fact, Boren – who has a daughter that he expects will play high school soccer – said that high school girls are more susceptible to concussions, because of their neck strength, or lack there-of. “Without strong neck muscles, they are unable to properly stabilize their head, and if you troll around the internet, you’ll find that there is quite a bit of chatter on the silent concussion epidemic in high school girls soccer.”

However, exploring high school soccer’s “silent concussion epidemic,” will have to wait for another day.

Equipment can only go so far. Implementing new rules and procedures only work if they are followed. Awareness only helps if those being made aware pay attention and apply it. Teammates – as well as coaches, need to be responsible enough to notify someone when a player suffers a concussion. A lesson Boren wants everyone to learn before it is too late.

“The most important thing that I hope is learned, is that we need to recognize the symptoms of a concussion, and get the player off the field.”

Source: Smith, Travis M. “Concussions: A Headache of a Problem – Part Three and a Look into Equipment.” Brownwood Bulletin. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.