In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NCAA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, is undertaking a 3 year $30 million dollar study pertaining to head injuries and concussions. Of note, the NCAA has already agreed to pay $75 million to settle a class action lawsuit over concussion related claims.
By now, most sports-minded Americans know a lot more about concussions than they did even five years ago. This awareness has led to policy and protocol changes throughout athletic organizations, from youth to professional sports. Concussion awareness has also made its way to the sports-retail market, where new football helmet add-ons claim to reduce head injuries. But do they work?
A recent study of young football players ages five to 15 years old found that proper blocking and tackling techniques along with properly fitted equipment can reduce injuries by 76 percent. It can also reduce by 57 percent, those injuries that keep players out for at least 24 hours.
Kudos to Trinity Christian Academy in Addison Texas. This school serves as a great example of how to strategically handle the aftermath of concussion among young athletes.
You may have heard the recent NPR story on this subject. For those who didn’t, here’s the condensed version.
A Trinity football player suffered a concussion during a game. For weeks after, he complained that his stomach hurt. He was tired all the time and felt pressure in his head. His doctor gave him some wise advice: No school, no football, no friends or electronics as long as these symptoms continue. The player was also told to be in a dark room and literally, “do nothing.”
Concussion awareness has skyrocketed. And as we’re learning, it’s a good thing.
More school athletic departments are making players sit out following head injuries. More parents are seeking immediate medical treatment when their child suffers a head injury. And more lawsuits are targeting sports organizations at all levels – organizations that in the past, downplayed the serious nature of head injuries. And then there’s the media, where the number of concussion-related stories is growing exponentially.
The jury is still out on what this might mean for high school football. But here’s the back story: On the heels of concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL and NCAA, this month, the same attorney who filed the NCAA class-action law suit has filed a class action suit against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). And according to a CNN report, the attorney isn’t stopping with one state. He plans to sue every state high school athletic association in the country.
It’s pretty much their nature – team sports and injuries go together. But the rise in concussion awareness is making us all more vigilant about the broader issue of sports safety.
Over the last few years, there have been numerous studies and research on sports-related head injuries in young athletes. The findings have led to big changes in schools and local sports initiatives. Safety is increasingly becoming a priority – and a popular one at that.