Posted: December 14, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, Lawsuit, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: Concussions, player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports
By JENNIFER EDWARDS
A Tuscumbia child can play 13 years of organized tackle football before leaving high school.
The city’s recreational tackle football program has teams for children as young as 5, and from there children move through middle school and high school football programs, the force of play escalating as children age and grow.
That’s the worry of concussion awareness advocates concerned about the long-term effects of head injuries in youth football.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who first published research findings about chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football, wrote in a guest column published in the New York Times that children should not be allowed to play “high-impact contact sports” such as football during pivotal years of brain development.
Omalu’s research is being profiled in the movie “Concussion” due out Christmas Day. The movie and his writing have invigorated a national debate about the safety of such sports, and who gets to determine when children should begin participation.
Muscle Shoals and Florence start tackle football leagues for children at 7 years old. In soccer, another sport that has recently addressed sport-induced concussions in the youth ranks, leagues start at age 4.
In Alabama, the concussion protocol is dictated by a state law passed in 2011 called the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Bill. It requires recreational coaches and assistant coaches to have annual training about concussion symptoms and treatment, and leagues develop an information sheet for athletes and parents to understand the same.
Players suspected of having a concussion during a game or practice must be removed from play immediately. That player can’t return to play that day, and must have a physician’s release letter to return to the team if it is determined the player does have a concussion.
“It does not matter if this is your best player or not. That child’s future is what is important,” said Tammy Holt, athletic director for Tuscumbia Park and Recreation Department.
Concussion symptoms include headache and pressure in the head, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, attention or memory problems, and blurry vision.
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced in November recommendations for affiliated leagues that are meant to reduce the possibility of concussions in soccer. The recommendations include disallowing heading the ball for players younger than 10 years old, and only allowing the skill in practice for children between 11 and 13.
The state-mandated concussion requirements for youth sports apply to all sports. The law also requires school systems to have a concussion awareness program in place to recognize possible head injuries outside of organized sports.
Rusty Wheeles, park and recreation director in Muscle Shoals, said he is not aware of any concussions suffered during games or practices in the leagues he administers.
Wheeles said the tackle football league expanded two seasons ago to provide football teams for 7- and 8-year-old children. Previously, tackle football began at age 9 in Muscle Shoals.
“We are a recreation program for the people of the community, and the people wanted it,” Wheeles said. “We had a lot of people wanting it, and families started sending their kids to Sheffield and Tuscumbia to play. We’ve had about 60 kids sign up (for the youngest age group).”
Todd Nix, community services director for Florence, said the Florence Parks and Recreation Department often will encourage athletes and parents to play in the city’s flag football league in the first years of learning the sport, and move into full-contact football at an older age.
He said the flag football league teaches the fundamentals of the game without the contact seen in the traditional version.
“Our tackle football registrations have gone up, but flag football (registration) has gone up faster,” Nix said. “We are really more interested in kids getting out and moving than we are having them play a particular sport. We do push flag football, and we tell people tackle football and football in general is a sport they can learn when they are a little older.”
Source: Edwards, Jennifer. “Concussion Awareness in Youth Sports Dictated by State Law.” TimesDaily. N.p., 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 14, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: Concussions, player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports
By NICOLE FISHER
Brain injuries, like any bodily injuries, are a natural part of life. Unsurprisingly, they occur during car accidents and common falls. However, recent advancements in neuroscience have highlighted just how harmful brain injury can be to overall health and cause lifelong impairment.
So what are policymakers to do about brain injuries that result from contact sports such as football, soccer, and lacrosse? Further, how do they protect those younger than 18, whose brains are still developing, while respecting individual choice?
Growing litigation and state-level legislative proposals in recent years demonstrate that radical rule changes are possible soon. These options include simply collecting data on current athletes via sensors that will inform future legislation, equipment mandates, prohibiting contact during practices, and explicitly banning contact sports for younger people.
Lawmakers Are On the Prowl
This means sports leagues need to be taking a better lead, and working diligently with scientists and policymakers to ensure the sports we love are protected, as are the humans who play them. It also means that policymakers need to know when to slow rule-making to ensure that the best science is available to them.
For example, several states have gone down the ill-advised path of mandating neurologists be on the sideline of football games. This not only does nothing for the athletes, but it costs school systems large sums of money to have an expensive person on the field who is no better at quickly diagnosing a concussion than a trainer.
Other states want to limit how quickly a player may return to practice post-concussion. However, data is so conflicted and the body of literature so young that recommended differences range from three days to several weeks. In reality, this should be an individual-based diagnosis and treatment, not a local or state directive.
We Don’t Know Enough to Regulate
Additionally, governors, senators, representatives, and even universities are calling health policy advisors with increased frequency asking about the slippery slope of mandating what students at all ages can and cannot do during a day. When many schools cannot afford new books, there is no room in the budget for things like expensive upgrades in equipment that are only marginally better at protection.
Further, if we can tell students and parents what people under the age of 18 must wear during the day or what activities they are allowed to participate in, then the First Lady’s food initiative is certainly on the table, adding all kinds of regulation and expenses schools cannot afford.
Yet, as athletes continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger, and training begins at increasingly younger ages to enhance performance, risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury increases exponentially. For youth these often result in difficulties returning to the field and to the classroom, as well as potential life-long impact. For adults, we know that repeated brain trauma can lead to many long-term mental health issues and potentially increased degeneration.
So, while the science itself grows and evolves each day, the one known in neuroscience is that policymakers are not going to sit on the sidelines. It’s time for sports leagues, scientists, and policymakers to get on the same team so Americans make the best decisions to preserve sports and health.
Source: Fisher, Nicole. “Brain Injuries Are About To Change Sports Forever.” The Federalist. N.p., 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 11, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, High School, Lawsuit, Player Safety | Tags: Concussions, high school sports, player safety, Safety Tag
By JASON CATO
Many of Pennsylvania’s 350,000 junior and senior high school athletes likely have experienced severe concussions and the kind of lingering effects three Lawrence County high school athletes had to endure, according to a class-action lawsuit claiming negligence against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Two former student athletes at Neshannock High School and the father of a senior at Ellwood City sued the PIAA in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court late Thursday alleging the governing body did little to protect them from or help them with concussions suffered while playing high school sports.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages on behalf of Jonathan Hites and Kaela Zingaro, both New Castle residents and 2014 Neshannock graduates, and Domenic Teolis, 17, of Ellwood City.
The head of the state’s governing body over school sports vowed to fight the allegations vigorously, and one legal expert said the PIAA will prevail.
“This lawsuit will lose,” said Hosea Harvey, a Temple University law school professor with expertise in youth sports law. “They are actually undermining the issue of student safety in Pennsylvania.”
Neither Hites nor Zingaro nor their families could be reached for comment. Samuel Teolis, listed as a plaintiff because his son is a minor, declined to comment.
Attorneys for a Texas-based law firm that specializes in class-action lawsuits and which is heading up the litigation against the PIAA did not respond to numerous messages from the Tribune-Review.
Bob Lombardi, the PIAA’s executive director since 1988, said he was blindsided by the lawsuit in light of the measures the organization has implemented in recent years regarding player safety and concussions.
“This blows my mind,” Lombardi said. “All of our schools try to take care of the health of our athletes. I think we have been very responsive in asking our member schools to follow protocols.”
RULES IN PLACE
Since 2009, all 50 states passed laws regarding concussions in youth athletes. Pennsylvania in 2012 enacted its Youth in Sports Safety Act, which outlines responsibilities of schools and coaches.
“We have to have a player removed and evaluated by someone who is trained in the management, care and treatment of concussions. That’s the extent of the law,” said Larry Cooper, head athletic trainer at Penn-Trafford High School and chairman of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee.
Many schools go beyond that requirement, implementing preseason baseline assessments for concussions and installing more stringent concussion protocols with the help of brain injury specialists.
“The PIAA was in the forefront, not lagging behind, to try to get something in place as a student safety initiative,” Cooper said. “You have to applaud them for doing that.”
The lawsuit, which alleges negligence before and after Pennsylvania passed its law, describes in detail concussion injuries suffered by the plaintiffs and the failure of coaches and others to recognize and deal with symptoms. No schools or coaches are named in the lawsuit.
Hites suffered a severe concussion in 2011 as a freshman attending a team football camp at Slippery Rock University. It took him more than a year to be medically cleared, but he still experiences learning and social difficulties, the lawsuit states.
Zingaro suffered a concussion in June 2014 while playing in a Neshannock High softball game. Doctors cleared her to return to play two months later, although her attorneys said she continued to experience headaches and trouble with concentration.
Domenic Teolis, now a senior at Ellwood City’s Lincoln High School, suffered multiple concussions in his freshman year during football practices and games, the lawsuit states.
After suffering a concussion in practice in October 2012, Teolis played the next day against Central Valley, his lawyers said. He reported concussive symptoms to a trainer and coaches, but nothing was done until his parents took him to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC that night, the lawsuit states.
CLAIMS AGAINST PIAA
The lawsuit claims the PIAA violated state law by not:
• requiring concussion baseline tests;
• tracking and reporting concussions;
• requiring qualified medical personnel be present at all PIAA-sanctioned practices and events;
• removing athletes with apparent concussions from practices and games;
• taking measures to educate school personnel on how to provide proper medical response to suspected concussions; and
• providing resources for student-athletes in seeking professional medical care at the time of a concussion, during treatment or for post-injury monitoring.
“None of these are required under Pennsylvania law,” said Harvey, the Temple professor. “They just aren’t.”
In addition to paying for its alleged negligence, the lawsuit wants a court to order the PIAA to establish a medical monitoring trust fund to pay for ongoing and long-term expenses of student athletes and former student athletes.
PREVIOUS CASE DISMISSED
Lawyers filed a similar suit last year against the Illinois High School Association, making it the first prep sports governing body in the country to face a class-action concussion lawsuit.
A judge in October dismissed the case, saying the IHSA had worked to improve protections for student athletes and that imposing broader liability on the governing body could reduce participation in high school football or end the sport altogether.
Harvey said the lawsuit filed in Lawrence County “cuts and pastes” whole sections of the failed litigation filed in Illinois.
Instead of frivolously suing the PIAA, the plaintiffs should address their concerns to state lawmakers in an effort to improve Pennsylvania law, the professor said.
“The allegations of what happened are not frivolous, and the solutions aren’t frivolous,” Harvey said. “But these are best addressed through the Legislature.”
Source: Cato, Jason. “Lawsuit Alleges PIAA Failed to Protect Students from Concussions.” TribLIVE.com. N.p., 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 7, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: Concussions, player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports
Males who participate in amateur contact sports, such as high school football, are more susceptible to developing the degenerative brain disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to a new student done by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The findings, published in the December issue of Acta Neuropathological, show that 32 percent of the males who had participated in contact sports growing up showed signs of CTE as chronicled by the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, Minn. Because CTE can only be identified after a person has died, the study was based on brains posthumously donated for research. Among the contact sports listed were “football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, basketball, baseball.”
The study is the first to look for CTE in non-professional athlete using diagnostic criteria from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, according to Dr. Dennis Dickson, the study’s author and a Mayo Clinic neuropathologist.
“(This) work is groundbreaking,” Dickson said in a news release. “The frequency with which (we) found CTE pathology in former athletes exposed to contact sports was surprising.”
The release said the 66 males who had participated in contact sports growing up, 32 percent showed CTE when the brain tissue was examined. None of the 198 brains examined from those who had not participated in contact sports in their youth showed CTE. That included the 66 women.
Said Kevin Bieniek, who led the research team: “The purpose of our study is not to discourage children and adults from participating in sports, because we believe the mental and physical health benefits are great. It is vital that people use caution when it comes to protecting the head. Through CTE awareness, greater emphasis will be placed on making contact sports safer, with better protective equipment and fewer head-to-head contacts.”
Source: “New Study Finds Evidence of Brain Injury in Men Who Participated in Contact Sports as Youths.” USA Today High School Sports. N.p., 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 6, 2015 Filed under: Dehydration, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: dehydration, player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports
By LAUREN WEILER
You’ve heard it again and again — drink water instead of juice, soda, or sugary sports drinks, and drink plenty of it. While the typical water-consuming mantra has always been to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (totally 1.9 liters), you’ll actually be needing a bit more than that to stay on top of your hydration needs. The average man should be drinking around 3 liters, or 13 cups of water a day to stay hydrated according to Mayo Clinic, and this amount can even increase depending on your daily activity levels. You should also consider all of the different ways you lose fluids in a day through breathing, perspiring, and going to the bathroom, so replenishing what you lose is incredibly important in maintaining optimal health. While it may seem excessive and chore-like to constantly consider your water intake, having enough fluids in your body is vital for proper organ function, metabolic health, hunger control, and achieving healthy energy levels.
If you find that you’re fatigued halfway through your workout or your workday, you may want to reach for a glass of water over coffee or caffeine-laden sports drinks. Whether you realize it or not, you may be dehydrated, and dehydration can lead to fatigue, says Authority Nutrition. Athletes in particular are prone to becoming more dehydrated than others — it is not uncommon for athletes to lose anywhere from 6 to 10% of their water weight through sweat during their workouts, and performance levels can suffer when athletes lose as little as 2% of their water weight.
Going into a workout without the proper amount of water in your system can lead to changes in the way your body regulates temperature, a lack of motivation to complete all of your reps, and the illusion that your workout is a lot more difficult than it really is in both a physical and mental sense. Because muscle is roughly 80% water, you need to give water back to your muscles when they’re hard at work, as this will keep your reps consistent and your body prepared for workouts that are longer and more difficult.
While water is great for keeping energy levels high during your workout (and outside of the gym as well), staying hydrated is also the key to maintaining that your organs are functioning as well as possible. Men’s Fitness states that water speeds up the metabolism and flushes out toxins from your body, ensuring that your organs can function with efficiency. Even the simple act of keeping your mouth and nose from drying out is from proper water intake, and processes like digesting food, circulating the blood, and lubricating and cushioning joints are supported by staying hydrated.
Drinking water also helps protect the brain, the blood, and the spinal cord while keeping these sensitive areas moist. And don’t forget about the benefits that water has for your memory and productivity — drinking a glass of water while doing office work can give you the extra boost of energy and focus that you may need to complete tedious tasks.
Everyday Health also explains how proper hydration keeps your insides working optimally by assisting in the excretion of waste through urinating, perspiring, and defecating. Your kidneys, your liver, and your intestines utilize water to flush out waste, and staying hydrated can even lead to relieving symptoms of constipation. With that being said, water is also great for digestion in general — when you consume soluble fibers, water can help the fibers dissolve easily, which eases the digestion process. Because your digestive system needs your saliva and water to assist in breaking down foods and dissolving nutrients for your body to absorb and benefit from, it makes sense that drinking water can ease this process and assist your body in the food and particle breakdown.
Water also greatly benefits the skin, your body’s largest organ. Certain toxins can cause inflammation, which can directly affect the clarity of your skin. If you’re looking for a quick way to clear an acne breakout, consider drinking a few more glasses of water a day to reduce the risk of any inflammatory skin disorder. And, because your digestive health and your skin health are linked, you may drink more water to help with your digestion and experience clearer skin as an added bonus.
Though you may be reaching for low-calorie protein shakes and calorie-controlled portions to reach your weight loss goal, Greatist says that water is a key component to staying trim and feeling fuller for longer. Adding a few more glasses of water a day to your daily diet can help keep you satiated and boost your metabolic rate — not only will you be cutting back on calories, but you’ll also give your metabolism the extra boost it might need. According to this study, drinking a little over two cups of water extra a day can increase your metabolic rate by 30% for up to (or slightly over) an hour. You should also consider what time you’re drinking your water as well — drinking water a half hour before your next meal is appropriate so that you feel satiated before beginning to eat, which will lower your calorie intake overall.
Though the best way to stay hydrated is from drinking water from the glass, you can also eat more foods that naturally contain more water. Health states that nearly 20% of your daily water intake comes from solid foods anyway, so consider adding more cucumbers (96.7% water), iceberg lettuce (95.6%), radishes (95.3%), tomatoes (94.5%), watermelon (91.5%), and strawberries (91%) into your diet. If you’re finding it difficult to get more of these fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, then consider adding in cucumbers, lemons, or herbs to your drinking water for additional digestive health boosts and anti-inflammatory effects.
Having trouble keeping up with how much water you’re drinking? A general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water as you’re eating each meal and between every meal that you have. If you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow in color, you’re most likely pretty well-hydrated, and though it is possible to experience health complications associated with drinking too much water, most healthy adults who eat an average diet will not need to worry about this ever becoming an issue.
Source: Weiler, Lauren. “The Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water.” The Cheat Sheet. N.p., 06 Dec. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 3, 2015 Filed under: Football, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports, youth sports death
By DIANE HERBST
This story is part two of a three-part PEOPLE series on high school football deaths. The mother of late football player Tyrell Cameron also spoke to PEOPLE about losing her son – and forgiving the player involved in the fatal collision on the field.
For freshman Tyrell Cameron, it was a fractured neck after being hit during a punt return. Ben Hamm took a hit to the head. The same was true for Kenny Bui and Andre Smith.
Cam’Ron Matthews felt woozy before he collapsed on the sidelines. Evan Murray also felt woozy, this following a hit to his stomach, while Luke Schemmcollapsed on the sidelines soon after he got hit a final time.
Within hours or days of their respective collisions or tackles, all seven of these high school football players were dead.
In all, 13 high school and one youth football players have died since July 1, to according to Doug Casa, Ph.D., the chief executive officer of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, which researches sudden death in sport.
Seven of the deaths have been linked indirectly to the sport, with causes including cardiac conditions, heat stroke and exertional sickling (a medical emergency occurring in athletes carrying the sickle cell trait), says Casa, director of athletic training education, department of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.
“Nearly all non-traumatic deaths in sport,” says Casa, “are preventable.”
On July 7, for example, 14-year-old Collin Kelly, a sophomore at Pike High School in Indiana died one day after passing out at a conditioning practice. The Marion County Coroner’s Office determined that Kelly died of heatstroke suffered at the practice.
“You can’t think of a bigger tragedy than a heatstroke death because all you need is ice water and a tub,” Casa says. “Imagine parents finding out their child dies and it was a $150 tub and ice and water that the school had, it’s the difference between their child living and dying.”
The deaths related to on-field injuries make Robert Cantu, M.D., medical director for the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill “very concerned personally,” he says.
How a Second Concussion Can Prove Fatal
Cantu, a professor of neurosurgery at the Boston University School of Medicine, thinks that several of the direct deaths – those related to on-field play – sound like they may be second impact syndrome: acute, sometimes fatal brain swelling that occurs when a second concussion is sustained before complete recovery from a previous concussion.
It is “a preventable condition and it would be a real tragedy if that were really the situation,” Cantu says.
An astounding 70% of high school athletes with concussions played despite their symptoms, and 40% reported that their coaches didn’t know of the injury, according to a 2014 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Many players don’t reveal injuries, says Cantu, since they know it may keep them from playing or disappoint their teammates.
However, “it’s only as important as life and death,” Cantu says of a football player participating with the symptoms of concussion. (A concussion is an injury to the brain that produces a temporary loss of brain function with symptoms including dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, headache and vision changes. Usually, nothing will be seen from an imaging test.)
“You are setting yourself up for the second impact syndrome, which has a 50 percent mortality rate if it happens,” Cantu says. “And, unfortunately, it has an almost 100 percent morbidity rate meaning even if you survive, you survive with neurologic deficits.”
Senior wide receiver Kenney Bui of Evergreen High School in Burien, Washington, had suffered a concussion one month before a game on October 2, for which a doctor cleared him to play. In the fourth quarter, when Bui seemed dazed, an ambulance took him to the hospital, where he died three days later. An autopsy found that he died of blunt force trauma to his head.
With great concern about concussions and the safety of football, one school board in Missiouri disbanded its football program earlier this year.
As shocking as these deaths are, however, the rate is far lower than its peak in 1968, when 26 high school players died from on-field play, according to a recent NCCSIR report.
The past ten years have had between zero and 8 deaths per year directly attributable to playing the game, per the NCCSIR report. In 2013, for example, eight players died from injuries sustained on the field, a rate of .73 deaths per 100,000, while last year five high school and one college player died, a rate of 0.45 per 100,000.
Why Is This Happening to High School Players?
Some 1.1 million high school students are playing football as compared to 100,000 playing at the college and pro levels, according to the NCCSIR. Yet even with those huge numbers of players in high school, a 2007 study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine found that the incidence of catastrophic head injuries in football is dramatically higher at the high school level than at the college level. The researchers concluded that, “an unacceptably high percentage of high school players were playing with residual symptoms from a prior head injury.”
Cantu, an author of the 2007 study and who published 2012’s Concussion and Our Kids, says the still-developing brains of high school athletes makes them more vulnerable to catastrophic head injuries as compared to players in the NFL.
Yet he notes that it’s the younger players who hit the most, “which is crazy,” he says.
“The coaches of those younger players say ‘you have to teach them,’ but you don’t have to teach them by bashing heads. They way practice is conducted and how frequently you hit needs to change.”
Another factor contributing to these deaths is the lack athletic trainers (highly-trained medical personnel) at all practices and games, says Casa.
The Importance of First Responders
Despite high school football accounting for the vast majority of catastrophic injuries, just 37 percent of high school have a fulltime athletic trainer, and only 50 percent have a trainer at all practices and games, according to a recent study in the Journal of Athletic Training.
“What you do in the first 5 or 10 minutes will dictate if the athlete lives or dies,” says Casa, of the study’s authors. “We can’t just call an ambulance and put our hopes on EMS or an EMT, we can’t put our hopes on the ER doc. The initial care needs to be resolved on the field.”
The most common causes of death in high school athletes, according to the Korey Stringer Institute, include heat stroke, cardiac arrest and head, neck and spinal injuries.
“If you look at indirect deaths, the deaths are almost always preventable,” Casa says. “If an AED [automated external defibrillator] is placed within a minute, 90 percent of cardiac cases survive. With heat stroke, if you cool a person down properly, 100 percent survive.”
Casa, an author of the NCCSIR study, notes that while direct deaths have seen a decrease since the 1960s, “we are in the middle of a four decade rise in indirect deaths.
“When it comes to cardiac, heat stroke and sickling death, it is without question getting more dangerous to play football,” he says.
“But those are preventable, it’s not necessarily the sport of football, it’s not because two people run into someone on a field, it’s what we’re doing in terms of conditioning and not having proper education for coaches, they’re not doing smart things in their training.”
“Any death of a young athlete is a tragedy, it is emotionally heart rending and absolutely horrible,” says Dr. Doug Zipes, a cardiologist and distinguished professor, Indiana University School of Medicine, who helped write the American Heart Association’s recently updated guidelines for athletes with heart problems.
There has been a debate among experts on the extent of screening athletes for cardiac problems, on top of their required physical examinations, he says.
“Some places add an electrocardiogram or other things but adding those things has not been cost-efficient and they lead to false negative and false positive diagnosis,” he says.
“The electrocardiogram can look normal and someone can still have heart problems, or the electrocardiogram can look abnormal and someone doesn’t have heart problems. The issues are complex.”
Zipes calls for AEDs at all practices and athletic events. “Knowing we have difficulty identifying the athlete at risk, let us be prepared to respond to that athlete who does have sudden cardiac death and the best response is a defibrillator,” he says. “And if that is applied to an athlete within minutes, we can save that life.”
Cantu bemoans the current system of finding the cause of death with football players who die after on-field play, as it is up to a medical examiner, not a neuropathologist, who is highly trained in determining causes of death on the field.
In light of the high school football deaths this year, two congressmen last week introduced legislation that would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take some action.
“We desperately need a mechanism that would allow experts to examine each of these fatalities so we could be absolutely about what caused them,” Cantu says, adding that even one death, “is too many.”
Source: Herbst, Diane. “13 High School Football Deaths This Season – PEOPLE Talks to the Experts About Why, And What Can Be Done to Help.” PEOPLE.com. N.p., 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 3, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, Football, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: Concussions, player safety, Safety Tag, youth football, Youth Sports
By UZMA SAMADANI
I read with great interest the recent report on the call for elimination of football from high school argued by Drs. Stephen Miles and Shailendra Prasad (“U doctors call for no football in schools,” Nov. 22). They take issue with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) position statement that tackle football should not be eliminated from youth sports. The AAP position statement instead proposes a series of measures to make football safer — including limiting contact practices, rule changes, improved protective equipment and neck strengthening, among others.
There are several reasons that the AAP statement is reasonable in arguing for continued contact sports, with efforts to render them as safe as possible.
The first reason is that it is impossible to legislate all risk-taking behaviors out of childhood and adolescence. The adolescent brain is not fully developed, and thus not as rigid in its signaling as the adult brain. It is still developing and is wildly creative compared with the more inhibited adult brain. Despite any legislation, children are biologically more impulsive, less restrained and more inclined to take risks.
Football is on the riskier end of the spectrum of sports, but still is less risky than skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, equestrian sports or bicycling. If we are going to legislate all risk-taking behaviors in children, we should probably begin with those that are statistically most dangerous, rather than those in the middle.
Ultimately, if we do not let our children play football, they may choose to skateboard off the roof. This type of activity is what they are biologically programmed to do.
The second reason not to eliminate tackle football is that it is not entirely clear that elimination of risk-taking behaviors from childhood is in the interest of our society. With football, children learn to assess risk based not only on their own capabilities, but also on the capabilities of their teammates, who protect them and work for their mutual interests. This capacity for rapid risk assessment and plan execution, relying on teamwork and assessment of evolving challenges, may serve our children well in their later professional lives.
Without childhood risk, there might not be adult risk-taking behaviors — no astronauts, explorers, entrepreneurs, fire rescue personnel or surgeons, for example. Helicopter parenting and elimination of all risk may breed a generation of cowards unfit to face the challenges of the next century.
A third reason for the AAP position, clearly indicated in its statement, is that there is not substantive scientific evidence indicating that subconcussive or even concussive impacts in youth have deleterious long-term health effects. The vast majority of children will recover from a concussion without any adverse condition. The greatest risk factor for dementia in American society is vascular insufficiency due to hypertension, obesity and diabetes — all far more prevalent in children who do not exercise. Dementia is also more common in women, who are less likely to have played contact sports.
Within the spectrum of brain-injury-inducing activities contemplated by the developing and unpredictable minds of American youth, football represents an extremely tiny fraction of where risk actually resides. Focused efforts on elimination of football detract from the true preventable causes of brain injury — specifically, gun violence, motor vehicle collisions, and drug or alcohol abuse. Such efforts are also contrary to elimination of the greatest scourge to the health of our modern society — obesity due to inactivity.
The question we should be asking is not whether we should ban football, but how we can encourage more children to be active in the sport of their choice, played as safely as possible.
The AAP has it right — make football safer and get the kids out there playing. Children who want to play football should be encouraged, and those who do not should be counseled to seek alternative exercises that are hopefully at least as beneficial.
Uzma Samadani is Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Hennepin County Medical Center and an associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of “The Football Decision — An exploration into every parent’s dilemma on whether or not to let a child play contact sports,” which will be published in January 2016.
Source: Samadani, Uzma. “Counterpoint: Call to Ban Football Collides with the Facts.” Star Tribune. N.p., 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
Posted: December 2, 2015 Filed under: Player Safety, Soccer, Youth Sports | Tags: player safety, Safety Tag, Youth Sports
CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – The United States Soccer Federation today introduced a player health and safety program called Recognize to Recover. The first-of-its-kind program aims to reduce injuries in soccer players of all ages and promote safe play by those on and around the field.
Recognize to Recover was developed with the help of medical experts and will provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries.
“Recognize to Recover will lead to better awareness and understanding of player health and safety initiatives and strengthen the role parents, players, coaches and officials play in preventing, protecting and addressing injuries,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. “While U.S. Soccer is launching the framework of Recognize to Recover today, this is just the beginning as more information around specific areas of focus will be rolled out in the coming months.”
Information about head injuries, including new guidelines regarding concussions, will be included in the program, along with other important player health and safety topics such as heat-related illness and dehydration, heart health, nutrition and injury prevention.
“As the national governing body of our sport, U.S. Soccer is committed to being the leader in lasting change that has a positive impact on the game,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We created Recognize to Recover to elevate player health and safety and bring players, coaches, parents and officials together to help ensure safe play at all levels of our sport.”
As part of Recognize to Recover, U.S. Soccer recently presented overall concussion guidelines that include rule changes that will reduce the possibility of head injuries while preserving the nature of the game. Players suspected of a concussion will be given plenty of time for evaluation by a health care professional without penalty or loss of a substitute. U.S. Soccer is also recommending that heading the ball be prohibited for children 10 and under, and to limit the activity to practice only for children ages 11 to 13.
“We know that the vast majority of concussions occur when there is contact between players trying to head the ball,” said Chiampas. “Whether that is head-to-head contact, elbow-to-head or their head hitting the ground while challenging for the ball in the air; by reducing the number of those aerial challenges to head the ball, we believe we will decrease the incident of concussions.”
“While the science on head injuries is still developing, these rule changes and recommendations are based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee. As we continue to learn more, we’ll have the flexibility to adapt to the findings and make the appropriate changes.”
As part of Recognize to Recover, U.S. Soccer will be working directly with current and former players to spread the message about the importance of player health and safety. More information about those player ambassadors will be provided in the near future.
Source: “U.S. Soccer Announces ‘Recognize to Recover’ Player Safety Program.” Soccer Wire. N.p., 02 Dec. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.