Youth Football Concussions – Part 2

Read the Children's Safety Blog for more info on Youth Football Concussions.
High School Football
According to researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital young athletes across all sports suffer 300,000 concussions each year. Almost 90 percent of concussions in high school football happen from player-to-player contact. That’s one reason the NFL Players Association negotiated limits on tackling during practices. Unfortunately, very few high school leagues have caught up with that NFL standard.
 
 
One exception is Texas. They have adopted one of the strictest limits on high school contact and tackling at practices. The University Interscholastic League, the association that sets rules for high school sports in Texas, limited full contact during practice to 90 minutes a week.
 
Lauren Silverman, a reporter for NPR member station KERA reports that at top rated DeSoto High School there was no head-to-head action or players falling to the ground after a tackle at practice.
 
“This is a tackling circuit,” explains DeSoto coach Paul Beattie. “The way we modified it is we’re not going to take them to the ground. We don’t want to hurt our own players.”
 
In this type of tackling circuit drill, players run past, instead of into, each other. The team’s head coach, Claude Mathis, welcomes the rule. “I saw a big improvement in our kids, in our kids’ legs, in their body language. They weren’t as tired as they were before,” he says.
 
Texas and Arizona both have rules limiting contact during high school football practice. But most states have no regulations.
 
In the NFL, all players are required to take a medical exam at the beginning of each year. This gives their doctors a baseline assessment of players’ regular mental and physical state. At high schools, there’s no standard medical testing for football players. There is no standard requirement for medical personnel to be employed by the team.
 
Basically this means your coaching staff better really understand the symptoms of a concussion and can take the appropriate measure to protect the player. If you are the parent of a High School football player I’m strongly suggesting that you politely, or not so politely inquire about the school getting baseline physicals for the team at the beginning of football season. If they won’t do it, get one done yourself.
 
How Can You Protect the Player?
Start with better helmets. We know that current helmets do a bad job of protecting the player from concussion. There are several small companies working towards better helmets but one that stands out is located in Sweden. Your first impulse is to think Sweden? But a lot of ice hockey is played in Sweden and hockey is also a contact sport and shares many of the same issues as football. Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS) was founded by Peter Halldin, a biomechanical engineer at the Royal Institute of Technology.
 
Tests indicate that the MIPS helmet significantly reduces rotational forces. Current research indicates that rotational forces actually create the majority of concussions. Unfortunately, getting helmet manufacturers to accept the need for this new technology has been difficult. At this point the manufacturers do not feel a pressing need for significant changes because the 40 year old safety standards they adhere to still tell them their helmets protect. Fortunately, change is on the horizon, the agency that created the standards has commissioned a study that would include rotational forces. The NFL has a sub-committee working on the same issue. With any luck helmet manufacturers will incorporate new technologies like MIPS that will prevent concussions. Until then, you , as a parent of a young football player need to be aware of the signs of a concussion. The infographic in the next tab gives you the symptoms of a concussion.
 
 

 

What are the symptoms of a concussion?
This infographic was used in a previous post but it is so powerful and useful that we are repeating it.
 
The easiest way to show you is to show you. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has created an outstanding infographic for the symptoms of a concussion. CHOP encourages others to embed this infographic on their site or in a post and Katie’s Blog has done exactly that.
 
The following Infographic was created by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
 
Children's Safety Blog CHOP Concussion Symptoms.
 
Resources:
“High Schools Struggle To Tackle Safety On The Football Field”
Published by KUOW.org
 
“The Helmet That Can Save Football”
Published in Popular Science, written by Tom Foster Posted 12.18.2012
 
Photo credit: slapstix55 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND