More kids are getting concussions younger

Are we underestimating how many children get concussions?

And is it happening to more children at younger ages than previously thought?

Yes to both, according to a new joint study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the U,S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which was published online Tuesday in JAMA Pediatrics,  found that the majority — four out of five — of over 8,000 concussion diagnoses within the CHOP network over a four-year period were made at a primary care practice rather than at a hospital emergency department.

That, said leader author Kristy Arbogast, co-scientific director of the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention, “is exactly the opposite” of what had been previously thought, based on data collected on emergency visits and high school and college athletics.

In addition, more of the diagnosed patients in the study were younger than had been expected: one-third were under 12.

“This study provides direction for healthcare networks and clinicians about the critical importance of providing targeted training and resources in primary care settings,” Christina Master, a coauthor and CHOP pediatric sports medicine specialist, said in a statement.

CHOP has offered widespread training on concussions to doctors in its network in recent years, Arbogast said.

Diagnosing young children can be different than older children.

For example, Arbogast said, instead of asking about nausea or difficulty concentrating in school, as one would of an older child, primary physicians – made aware of the great likelihood of concussion than past data suggested – can tailor their questions to younger patients when head injury is suspected.

Young children might instead be asked if their head or tummy hurts, or their vision might be tested.

The CHOP/CDC study covered up to age 17. Eight-two percent of the children had their first visit about a concussion at a primary care site, 12 percent at an emergency department and five percent in specialty care such as sports medicine. One percent were directly admitted to the hospital.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthcare/More-kids-are-getting-concussions-younger.html#dxme8PTeUbzic4Sl.99

 

Giordano, Rita. “More Kids Are Getting Concussions Younger.” Philly.com. Philly.com, 31 May 2016. Web. 31 May 2016.


Library to host Youth Sports health lecture next week

 

HOME PAGE MEDIA GROUP

The Brentwood Library is hosting a program on youth sports and staying healthy next week, with experienced health professionals leading the discussion.

Chuck Schumacher and Dr. Parnell Donahue will lead the talk, with a focus on exercise in hot weather, hydration and heat illness, concussions, positive benefits of exercise and fitness, parent’s roles in encouragement and coaching and nutrition, including alcohol and drug abuse.

Schumacher is an American karate and baseball instructor, whose longtime training in martial arts has resulted in an expert understanding of movements of the body and discipline of the mind. He has become known for his ability to work with young athletes to achieve skill and develop character.

The mainstay of Schumacher’s teaching and writing has been to educate parents and coaches to play their role correctly so kids can enjoy the process of skill development while learning life lessons. He is the author of ‘How to Play Baseball: A Parent’s Role in Their Child’s Journey.’

Donahue was named the 2014 Senior Pediatrician of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. His current books include a parenting teenagers book called ‘Messenger in Denim, The Amazing Things Parents Can Learn from Teens,’ and a general parenting book called ‘Tools for Effective Parenting.’ Other books include ‘Germs Make Me Sick’ and ‘Sports Doc.’

Their event will take place on Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Library, located at 8109 Concord Road. It will last for an hour and take place in Meeting Room B. Registration is required by clicking here.

 

Hearn, Samantha. “Library to Host Youth Sports Health Lecture next Week.” Brentwood Home Page. Brentwood Home Page, 31 May 2016. Web. 02 June 2016.


Update on Carmel youth baseball player who suffered near-fatal hit

CPR training of coaches and parents and defibrillators stationed at the park’s concession stands saved his life.

The 13-year-old Carmel baseball player whose heart stopped after he was struck in the chest by a ball recently is home, itching to play baseball again.

His dad updated IndyStar Tuesday about his son’s miraculous recovery, which he credited to the quick work of coaches and parents at Grand Park in Westfield — and a defibrillator pulled from the concession stand at the park.

“Without that, it probably would have been a totally different result,” said his dad, who was put in touch with IndyStar by his son’s Carmel Hounds coach, Paul Wright. The boy’s father asked that he and his son not be named because he doesn’t want the youth to be overwhelmed by attention.

The father of the boy said he was at work May 22 when his son, playing second base for a 13U travel team that is part of the Carmel Dads’ Club, was hit in the chest by a throw from his catcher that he didn’t see.

“It’s kind of the phone call from hell,” said his dad, “that no parent ever wants to get.”

The ball hit in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time and caused the boy’s heart to stop. That he will suffer no permanent damage, brain or otherwise, is a miracle.

His dad said the family is forever grateful to all who rushed to his son’s side, getting involved in a “scary situation.”

Doctors have told the boy that he will make a full recovery and, within three weeks, can be back out on the field playing.

And he’s antsy to do just that.

“Oh, he would get back out there today if he could,” his dad said.

Original story published May 26:

The baseball hit with a thud to his lower chest, right by his heart.

The second baseman for the Carmel Hounds youth travel team — who didn’t see the catcher’s throw coming his way — collapsed on the field Sunday at Grand Park in Westfield.

As he lay motionless on the ground, his skin turning gray, coaches and parents rushed to help, administering CPR.

But the 13-year-old boy didn’t have a pulse. He wasn’t responding.

And then came the tool that ultimately saved his life: an automatic external defibrillator pulled from the concession stand.

An AED, which restores a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest, is rarely found at a baseball field. Most youth leagues — travel, recreational or sanctioned Little League — don’t require them.

Little League Baseball and Softball, with about 2.5 million kids playing each year, recommends that local leagues have AEDs but doesn’t mandate that they do. The reason, according to the league, is cost.

Small, lower-income programs may not be able to afford a defibrillator, which on average costs about $2,000, according to the American Heart Association.

At Grand Park, a 400-acre sports complex with dozens of athletic fields, including 26 baseball fields, AEDs are stationed inside all concession stands and buildings, said Michelle Krcmery, marketing manager.

There are at least seven permanent defibrillators at the park, a decision that was made “in order to be prepared for an incident such as this,” she said, adding that the park’s safety protocols were written by the medical director at Westfield Fire Department, who is also a trauma physician.

“Youth sports embodies family, fun, healthy competitiveness and teamwork, so when a player is injured it is troubling to everyone involved, including the organization,” Krcmery said in an email to IndyStar. “As a continued measure, we are reviewing our public safety procedures as we speak to make sure we are always best equipped for an emergency.”

Baseball has a reputation as a nonviolent, low-impact sport, and, for the most part, it is.

Though there is no organization that tracks deaths in youth baseball leagues, a limited study commissioned by USA Baseball between 1989 and 2010 found that 18 children younger than high school age died of baseball injuries. Most of those happened when a pitcher or batter was hit in the head by a ball.

The other deaths occurred when a high-speed ball hit a player in the chest, causing sudden cardiac arrest.

That’s what those at the game Sunday think happened in Westfield during the tournament. Scott Foppe, the coach of the opposing Rawlings Tigers from Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, was among three adults who administered CPR to the Carmel boy.

Foppe said he didn’t really want to talk about the incident. The story should be about the boy, his condition, his fight to live and not about a few adults who did what any adult would do, he said.

But Foppe did say one thing on the record.

“I think people should get the training,” he said, “especially coaches — high school, college, youth — you should all have the training in CPR.”

And there should, without question, be defibrillators stationed at every youth baseball field in America.

The Carmel player, whose name is not being released because of privacy issues, was on second base Sunday. The game was in the third inning when a Tigers player tried to steal second and the Carmel boy didn’t see the catcher’s throw.

After paramedics arrived, he was taken to St. Vincent in Carmel and was in the intensive care unit as of Sunday night. His condition as of Tuesday evening was not known.

Carmel Hounds coach Paul Wright, responding to an email from IndyStar, declined comment and referred the reporter to the Carmel Dads’ Club Travel Baseball, the league the Hounds play in.

An email to David Cutsinger, commissioner of Carmel Dads’ Club, and Jack Beery, president, was not immediately returned.

This isn’t the first time a serious youth baseball incident has happened in Indiana.

Dylan Williams, an 8-year-old boy from Union City, died in July 2013 when he was struck in the neck by a baseball. His death spurred a nonprofit to donate eight defibrillators to the area about 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

The Union City Baseball Boosters organization now requires all coaches to receive training in CPR and on how to use AEDs. One defibrillator was placed with Dylan’s family so they could always help should an incident arise similar to what happened to their son. Another was put at the baseball diamonds where he was killed.

All athletes, no matter the sport, should be within four minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it, according to the American Red Cross. In fact, the organization says all Americans should be that close to one, athlete or not. Improved training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year, Red Cross says.

Momentum for AEDs in youth baseball is growing nationwide and in at least one league in Indianapolis. Broad Ripple Haverford Little League recently acquired two defibrillators for use at its games. The devices will be kept at the concession stands at its two fields.

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that requires all baseball fields on city-owned land to have a defibrillator onsite during youth games. The bill was sponsored by city councilman Steven Matteo, a youth baseball coach, who said at the time the law would “save lives.”

The defibrillators and training on how to use them will be paid for by the city.

Westfield, too, pays for Grand Park training. All staff and support staff at the park are trained on CPR and using the defibrillators.

“In this case, we are extremely grateful for the quick reaction of the parents and the first responder, a Westfield police officer,” said Krcmery, “as they both contributed to saving this player’s life.”

 

Benbow, Dana. “Update on Carmel Youth Baseball Player Who Suffered Near-fatal Hit.” Indy Star. IndyStar, 31 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Coaches get a “Heads Up” in Football

LUMBERTON — The game of football has come under tremendous scrutiny in recent years as a number of professional football players reported long-term injuries and brain trauma.

In the past four years, the Public Schools of Robeson County added certified athletic trainers to diagnose student injury and support players. This May, coaches across the school district took safety to the next level by participating in USA Football’s “Heads Up Football Program.” Fifty coaches from county high schools recently spent a full day studying and practicing in the program. It trained them in important health and safety issues along with the game’s fundamentals. The coaches also participated in four online courses as an additional component of the program.

Assistant Coach Thomas Umphrey participated in the training program and is already teaching the new techniques in spring workouts to players at Purnell Swett High School. Umphrey has worked in the school district for 30 years.

“Football has changed so much over the years since I started coaching,” Umphrey said. “Back in the early 80s and late 70s, a lot of the tackling techniques put the players facemask on the numbers of the front of the jersey. Now, players should move their facemask and helmet to the side when tackling a player. This should reduce injury or impact or force to the head.”

Umphrey said the training covered the various aspects of concussion awareness, fundamentals and fitting of helmets and equipment, heat stroke and also the proper techniques of tackling and blocking.

“They are teaching us how to recognize concussion symptoms and to make sure the equipment is properly fitted to reduce injuries. The course is all about teaching both players and coaches the proper safety of football,” he said.

The USA Football’s Heads Up Football program focuses on eight key areas including certification:

— Equipment fitting, particularly the proper fitting of the helmets and shoulder pads.

— Concussion recognition and response and employing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.

— Heat preparedness and hydration.

— Plans and procedures in place in case of sudden cardiac arrest.

— Heads-Up tackling which teaches the fundamentals in a safer way. USA Football has added a more advanced progression for high school varsity players.

— Heads-Up blocking which teaches the fundamentals of contact for offensive players without the ball.

— Establishing a player safety coach who is appointed by the school district and will ensure compliance with the Heads Up football safety protocols and coach certification. The appointee will also continue educating coaches, players and parents on safety protocols.

PSRC Athletic Director Jeff Fipps says the program aligns with the district’s goal to reduce the number of head injuries on the field.

“This program gives our staff the new standards to support our students in the effort to take the use of the athlete’s head out of football in terms of blocking and tackling,’ Fipps said. “Our coaches studied these new techniques as well as trained on the field themselves. I am excited that all of our programs will utilize the Heads Up football program to hopefully improve the safety of the game.”

Fipps says the goal for the coming school year is to implement Heads-Up certification at all middle schools in addition to the high schools.

PSRC participated in the Heads Up program through a grant from the Carolina Panthers in conjunction with the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

 

Robesonian, The. “- Robesonian – Robesonian.com.” Robesonian. Robesonian, 27 May 2016. Web. 03 June 2016.

13-year-old Carmel baseball player suffers near-fatal hit

CPR training of coaches and parents and defibrillators stationed at the park’s concession stands saved his life.

The baseball hit with a thud to his lower chest, right by his heart.

The second baseman for the Carmel Hounds youth travel team — who didn’t see the catcher’s throw coming his way — collapsed on the field Sunday at Grand Park in Westfield.

As he lay motionless on the ground, his skin turning gray, coaches and parents rushed to help, administering CPR.

But the 13-year-old boy didn’t have a pulse. He wasn’t responding.

And then came the tool that ultimately saved his life: an automatic external defibrillator pulled from the concession stand.

An AED, which restores a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest, is rarely found at a baseball field. Most youth leagues — travel, recreational or sanctioned Little League — don’t require them.

Little League Baseball and Softball, with about 2.5 million kids playing each year, recommends that local leagues have AEDs but doesn’t mandate that they do. The reason, according to the league, is cost.

Small, lower-income programs may not be able to afford a defibrillator, which on average costs about $2,000, according to the American Heart Association.

At Grand Park, a 400-acre sports complex with dozens of athletic fields, including 26 baseball fields, AEDs are stationed inside all concession stands and buildings, said Michelle Krcmery, marketing manager.

There are at least seven permanent defibrillators at the park, a decision that was made “in order to be prepared for an incident such as this,” she said, adding that the park’s safety protocols were written by the medical director at Westfield Fire Department, who is also a trauma physician.

“Youth sports embodies family, fun, healthy competitiveness and teamwork, so when a player is injured it is troubling to everyone involved, including the organization,” Krcmery said in an email to IndyStar. “As a continued measure, we are reviewing our public safety procedures as we speak to make sure we are always best equipped for an emergency.”

Baseball has a reputation as a non-violent, low-impact sport, and, for the most part, it is.

Though there is no organization that tracks deaths in youth baseball leagues, a limited study commissioned by USA Baseball between 1989 and 2010 found that 18 children younger than high school age died of baseball injuries. Most of those happened when a pitcher or batter was hit in the head by a ball.

The other deaths occurred when a high-speed ball hit a player in the chest, causing sudden cardiac arrest.

That’s what those at the game Sunday think happened in Westfield during the tournament. Scott Foppe, the coach of the opposing Rawlings Tigers from Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, was among three adults who administered CPR to the Carmel boy.

Foppe said he didn’t really want to talk about the incident. The story should be about the boy, his condition, his fight to live and not about a few adults who did what any adult would do, he said.

But Foppe did say one thing on the record.

“I think people should get the training,” he said, “especially coaches — high school, college, youth — you should all have the training in CPR.”

And there should, without question, be defibrillators stationed at every youth baseball field in America.

The Carmel player, whose name is not being released because of privacy issues, was on second base Sunday. The game was in the third inning when a Tigers player tried to steal second and the Carmel boy didn’t see the catcher’s throw.

After paramedics arrived, he was taken to St. Vincent in Carmel and was in the ICU as of Sunday night. His condition as of Tuesday evening was not known.

Carmel Hounds coach Paul Wright, responding to an email from IndyStar, declined comment and referred the reporter to the Carmel Dads’ Club Travel Baseball, the league the Hounds play in.

An email to David Cutsinger, commissioner of Carmel Dads’ Club, and Jack Beery, president, was not immediately returned.

This isn’t the first time a serious youth baseball incident has happened in Indiana.

Dylan Williams, an 8-year-old boy from Union City, died in July 2013 when he was struck in the neck by a baseball. His death spurred a nonprofit to donate eight defibrillators to the area about 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

The Union City Baseball Boosters organization now requires all coaches to receive training in CPR and on how to use AEDs. One defibrillator was placed with Dylan’s family so they would always be able to help should an incident arise similar to what happened to their son. Another was put at the baseball diamonds where he was killed.

All athletes, no matter the sport, should be within four minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it, according to the American Red Cross. In fact, the organization says all Americans should be that close to one, athlete or not. Improved training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year, Red Cross says.

Momentum for AEDs in youth baseball is growing nationwide and in at least one league in Indianapolis. Broad Ripple Haverford Little League recently acquired two defibrillators for use at its games. The devices will be kept at the concession stands at its two fields.

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that requires all baseball fields on city-owned land to have a defibrillator onsite during youth games. The bill was sponsored by city councilman Steven Matteo, a youth baseball coach, who said at the time the law would “save lives.”

The defibrillators and training on how to use them will be paid for by the city.

Westfield, too, pays for Grand Park training. All staff and support staff at the park are trained on CPR and using the defibrillators.

“In this case, we are extremely grateful for the quick reaction of the parents and the first responder, a Westfield police officer,” said Krcmery, “as they both contributed to saving this player’s life.”

 

 

Bembow, Dana. “13-year-old Carmel Baseball Player Suffers Near-fatal Hit.” Indianapolis Star. Indy Star, 24 May 2016. Web. 25 May 2016.

 

 


Concussion affects students more than other injuries

Students who suffer a concussion may face more school difficulties than their peers with other sports-related injuries, a new study suggests.

Return-to-learn guidelines

Researchers found that concussed high school and college students had more trouble performing at a normal academic level one week later compared to students who injured their arms or legs.

“Concussed students typically return to school within a week after injury, while their brains are likely still recovering,” said Erin Wasserman and colleagues from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in New York.

Read: Concussion in school rugby: new study evaluates risks 

“The study authors said their findings “emphasise the need for return-to-learn guidelines and academic adjustments based on gender and concussion history.”

For the study, the researchers analysed visits to three emergency departments by high school and college students between September 2013 and January 2015. All of the students had a sports-related concussion or a musculoskeletal injury involving an arm or leg.

Read: Apps can help professionals spot a concussion 

Using telephone surveys, the researchers compared self-reported academic problems after one week. The assessment was repeated one month after each student’s trip to the emergency room.

The investigators also found that young women and students who had two or more previous concussions were more vulnerable to these negative effects.

Read: Blood test may help diagnose concussion 

However, the learning difficulties did not persist long-term, the study authors noted in a news release from the American Public Health Association.

According to the team led by Wasserman, who is now with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Centre, one month after visiting the emergency room, students with a concussion no longer had worse academic performance than those with other injuries.

The results were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

24, Health. “Concussion Affects Students More than Other Injuries.” Health24. Health24, 23 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

 


UF study: Playing with concussion backfires

A new University of Florida study says trying to play through concussion symptoms backfires for college athletes.

A team of UF Health researchers looked at concussion data on UF athletes from 2008-2015 and found that athletes who delayed reporting a concussion to “play through it” missed an average of five to seven more days away from their sport in order to recover than athletes who reported symptoms right away.

“The immediate thought for the athlete might be let’s get through this game because it’s the most important thing, but in the long-term, you miss more time,” said Breton Asken, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student in Clinical and Health Psychology.

In a UF press release, Asken said earlier studies showed that continuing intense physical activity immediately after a concussion leads to more negative health issues and that may lead to the longer time away from the sport for those athletes.

The UF report is part of a national wave of research into sports-related concussions amid increased attention to protecting against brain injuries in sports, particularly football, from the youth level to the professional ranks. At UF, sensors installed in the helmets of a few dozen football players and a computer software system are part of an ongoing test started in 2014 to measure the force, length and location of hits to the head and improve understanding of how to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions.

The study on delayed reporting of concussions was published in the May issue of the journal of Athletic Training. In addition to researchers with the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Dr. James Clugston, a UF team doctor and assistant professor of community health and family medicine, a researcher with the Medical College of Wisconsin were study authors.

Because researchers reviewed database information to conduct the study, Asken said they could not pinpoint how many athletes intentionally delayed reporting concussion symptoms like impaired vision, memory, balance and cognitive performance and how many either thought the symptoms were not serious enough to report or did not recognize the symptoms as concussion-related.

He said the delays in reporting a concussion could stretch to the end of a practice, the end of a quarter, the end of the game or even as long as a few days.

The study looked at concussion data for 97 UF athletes who sustained concussions from spring 2008 to spring 2015. They included 67 football players; seven women’s lacrosse players; six men’s basketball players; five women’s soccer players; four women’s basketball players; three women’s volleyball players; two men’s swimming and diving team members, and one athlete each from women’s track and field, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming and diving.

The concussions reported by year were: nine in 2008; 7 in 2009; 19 in 2010; seven in 2011; 15 in 2012; 14 in 2013; 18 in 2014 and eight in 2015.

Asken said athletes who reported concussion symptoms immediately spent an average of seven to eight days in recovery time away from their sport. Those who delayed reporting symptoms missed an average of 12 to 14 days recovering.

“I think many athletes naively believe that concussion symptoms will go away, or if they report a concussion, it will keep them out of play for a lot longer,” Russell Bauer, a professor in the UF department of clinical and health psychology and the senior author of the study, said in a UF release. “These data show that if you do have signs of concussion and you wait to report it, you may actually have a longer road back to the playing field.”

While the study focused on college athletes at UF, Asken said diagnosis and management of concussions are a concern at every level of sports, from youth through the professional ranks. He said one takeaway from the study was the need for certified athletic trainers in the youth and high school sports ranks so athletes have someone with medical training to whom they can report concussion symptoms.

Curry, Christopher. “UF Study: Playing with Concussion Backfires.” Ocala.com. Ocala, 22 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Intense ‘atmosphere,’ concussion concerns take toll on select football

Kids playing up to 24 games a year

Teams not required to have trainers

Concerns about lack of knowledge among coaches, parents

Henry, John. “Intense ‘atmosphere,’ Concussion Concerns Take Toll on Select Football.” Star-telegram. Star-Telegram, 20 May 2016. Web. 24 May 2016.

State high school athletics associations endorse Heads Up football

The two main organizations that govern high school sports in Virginia – the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association – endorsed a player safety program created by USA Football in April.

The two endorsements came within a week of each other and spread the Heads Up initiative, which sets safety standards and offers certification courses to coaches and trainers, to more than 350 schools in the state with football programs.

“This further raises the bar in coaching education and player safety across the state at the high school level,” USA Football senior communications director Steve Alic said. “What you’re seeing on the high school level in Virginia is going to make a positive difference downstream for youth players as well.”

USA Football is football’s national governing body and its representative on the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The organization developed the Heads Up program in 2012 to promote the adoption of a safer approach to football, particularly in the light of health hazards such as concussions, sudden cardiac arrest and heat stroke.

According to data gathered by USA Football, there have been 47 deaths related to high school football in the past three years.

The program pivots on six educational components: concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness and hydration, sudden cardiac arrest, proper equipment fitting, tackling, and blocking. Heads Up tackling and blocking techniques aim to reduce the impact of those plays on players’ heads.

Coaches involved in the Heads Up program both at the youth and the high school level take required online certification courses that touch on all six educational components.

USA Football is also testing a form of the program where each participating organization has a player safety coach who reinforces Heads Up standards and helps instruct other coaches after being certified.

Fairfax County acted as a pioneer for Heads Up by becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to test the program in 2013, and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced in September 2015 that its athletic programs had already seen a 16 percent decrease in injuries and 28 to 36 percent decrease in the number of concussions among student athletes.

FCPS’s example was one factor in convincing the VISAA to endorse Heads Up.

“The people in Fairfax County have been very aggressive in what they’ve done,” VISAA executive director Richard Kemper said. “It’s shown to reduce injuries and reduce the rate of concussions. We wanted to pursue that with our schools, take some of the same principles and see how we can apply those.”

The governing body for accredited private schools in Virginia, the VISAA has a relatively smaller number of football-playing schools, with 45 compared to the more than 300 schools in the VHSL with football, though there’s some overlap since the VHSL started accepting private school members in 2015.

According to Kemper, the group first started having conversations about whether to endorse Heads Up at the VISAA’s annual coaches’ meeting in December, and he later talked to USA Football about the program at the Virginia Athletic Administrative Association conference in Richmond.

Though the VISAA and VHSL discussed endorsing the program independently, they made the decision around the same time because the two organizations generally try to work in conjunction with each other. That coordination ensures that players and coaches will approach the game with the same baseline knowledge and techniques.

“We’re looking to help people become better coaches and to look at ways that we can use the fundamentals of the game to keep students that participate as safe as possible,” Kemper said.

The VISAA hasn’t implemented Heads Up yet but will work on getting it into schools throughout the summer so that the program will be ready when football season starts in the fall. Ideally, all schools in the organization will use Heads Up, but the goal for now is to focus on adoption at the regional level.

Including the VISAA, 25 state high school athletic or state coaches associations from 20 different states around the country have endorsed Heads Up, according to Alic, with 10 of them committing since the end of the 2015 football season.

While the program is specifically designed for football, many of the coaching and training techniques, especially those that relate to player health, can be applied in other sports, such as lacrosse.

“Across the board in high school sports, not just football, many sports are doing good work in the area of player safety,” Alic said. “This further raises the standards and quality of the sport and how we address teaching the sport better and smarter as well as advancing player safety.”

 

 

Woolsey, Angela. “State High School Athletics Associations Endorse Heads Up Football.” Fairfax County Times. Fairfax County Times, 20 May 2016. Web. 24 May 2016.


County lawmakers hear testimony on proposed youth sports concussion law

Youth sports coaches and managers in Erie County may soon be required to take a brief course on concussion awareness and safety. A proposal is on the table in the Erie County Legislature and, Thursday morning, lawmakers heard testimony from people who have front-line knowledge of concussion safety.

 

While a wealth of information has emerged in recent years about the long-term effects of concussions, especially in cases when the victim is not allowed the adequate time to fully recover, there remain concerns about whether the adults who lead youth sports organizations are properly trained to recognize the symptoms.

University at Buffalo Concussion Clinic Director Dr. John Leddy, at center, speaks during a public hearing in Erie County Legislature chambers. At left is Matthew Fisher, the father of a teenager who suffered a serious concussion during an organized youth football game.
CREDIT MICHAEL MROZIAK, WBFO

proposed local law would require those directly involved in youth sports in coaching or organizer positions to attend a course once every two years, at no cost to those individuals. Sports organizations that are unable to provide documentation that their coaches and managers are up to date with training would be subject to fines.

The Erie County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee hosted a public hearing on the proposal Thursday morning and heard testimony from two individuals who have firsthand knowledge of youth sports concussions.

“Educating people about identifying concussions, that’s the most important thing at the youth sport level,” said Dr. John Leddy, director of the University at Buffalo’s Concussion Clinic. “You cannot prevent all concussions in sports, especially in collision sports, but what you can do is hope to ensure that concussions are identified as much as possible in kids.”

The proposal has bipartisan sponsorship from Legislators Patrick Burke and Joseph Lorigo. This version of the legislation is revised from earlier versions and gained Lorigo’s support once concerns about cost of the course were addressed. Youth sports organizers would not have to pay, and one of the possibilities raised during the hearing was that the University at Buffalo may provide a cost-free venue for the sessions.

Lorigo also spoke of a concern raised by fellow Legislator John Mills about liability. He was concerned that coaches or leagues may be sued by a parent if they miss a concussion, even after completing training.

“We do live in a litigious society, I’m an attorney by profession, and unfortunately that’s part of what we have to deal with,” Lorigo said. “But there’s insurance for that, as you heard on the floor today.

“It isn’t something we should really be worried about, when we’re talking about protecting children.”

Co-sponsor Burke expressed a need to address the notion that one can shake off a hard hit and stay in the game. It’s a culture he believes that still poses a challenge in contact sports.

“I’ve seen my 9-year-old son get knocked around pretty good and he still tries to get up and be a tough guy,” Burke said. “I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think we’re stepping the right direction. And I think the more we educate parents, the more we will ensure that their children are safe.”

 

Mroziak, Michael. “County Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Proposed Youth Sports Concussion Law.” WBFO. WBFO, 19 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.