Saturday, July 27, 2013

Head Games: New Study Urges Fewer Helmet Hits in Football Practice

Posted By on Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM

As millions of the nation's youth football players prepare to spend their August in training, a new study suggests that fewer contact drills can be tied to fewer instances of concussions. According to the New York Times, the study "may bolster calls to reduce the frequency of contact drills in youth football leagues."

The study, conducted by researcers from the Virginia Tech—Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, was published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

“You’re seeing a culture change due to the awareness” of concussions and other head injuries, Steve Alic, a spokesman for USA Football, told The Times.

"There is a re-emphasis on fundamentals,” Alic said. “It’s not easy to change the culture of youth football, so it’s going to take time.”

The Idaho High School Activities Association, which is tasked with overseeing competition among the thousands of boy and girl athletes at Gem State schools, released a survey of its own in January indicating an increasing number of reported head injuries—primarily concussions.

In October 2012, Boise Weekly examined the burgeoning problem, particularly among football players, by talking with Idaho football coaches in the high school and college ranks.

"My son got two concussions in eighth grade. He finished the season and hasn't played in the last two years since," said Marc Paul, Boise State University's assistant director for sports medicine. "As a dad that loves the sport—and I see so many good things about it—I would love to see him play because of how much he loved it before he got hurt."

A new law, passed by the 2012 Idaho Legislature, states that if an athlete younger than 18 years old "has sustained a concussion or head injury and exhibits outward signs or symptoms of such ... then the youth athlete shall be removed from play." The athlete will only be allowed to return to play once he or she is "evaluated and authorized to return by a qualified health care professional who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions."

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