NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE — FEB. 27, 2013
Pilot study says neck strength predicts concussion risk
A recent pilot study led by Dawn Comstock, associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, found that overall neck strength remained a statistically significant predictor of concussion, as reported by Time Magazine.
The study’s results found that for every one pound increase in neck strength, odds of concussion fell by 5 percent.
According to Time, “(While) this is a pilot study: this data is almost begging for a follow-up study in football. … Do stronger necks correlate with less concussions in that sport?”
“We focus so much on how to properly diagnose concussions,” Comstock said. “That’s obviously important, but preventing concussions is a much better outcome. We’re not saying that you won’t get a concussion if your neck is stronger. But the data shows that neck strengthening has strong potential as a key concussion prevention tool.”
NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee members detail sideline concussion protocol
During a media session at the NFL Combine, Drs. Stanley Herring and Margot Putukian, both members of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, demonstrated the sideline concussion protocol employed to help diagnose players with possible head injuries.
Dr. Herring, who is the Team Physician for the Seattle Seahawks, serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Advocacy and Education on the Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He explained the importance of the demonstration, saying “The best thing to do … is walk you through an examination that we would do on the sideline or in the locker room in real time and show you what we’re doing so [you] can have a foundation to understand that once we have this data it helps us make a decision on whether an athlete may be concussed.”
“I will tell you that no test is perfect, he added. “Some athletes can perfectly pass all of this and still be concussed. This is our effort to help standardize an approach to a very challenging diagnosis.”
Dr. Putukian, who is the Head Team Physician at Princeton University, serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Return-to-Play on the Head, Neck and Spine Committee. She emphasized the “elusive” nature of concussions, and the benefits of an added trainer viewing NFL games from in-stadium booths. The trainers “are helping our team physicians and medical staffs,” she said. “If they see something that they feel concerned about, then they can call down. The referees have been encouraged to also do what they need to do if a player needs to be evaluated.”
The doctors demonstrated the sideline concussion protocol on Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, who later told WISH-TV that “You need to be able to have these sorts of objective tests so that players, no matter what they want to tell you, you’re really going to try to find out as much of the truth as you can. They have to be protected from themselves and I think that’s what tests like this are going a long way toward doing.”
NFL Foundation working to raise awareness of safety in youth sports
Charlotte Jones Anderson, Chairman of the National Football League Foundation was recently interviewed by Dallas radio station KTCK-AM. As a mother of three, including two sons who play football, Anderson is using her role as Chairman to raise awareness of the role parents can play in putting their “children in situations that [they] don’t second guess.”
The NFL Foundation is working through USA Football to educate youth football coaches, parents and kids to help make the game safer. Anderson pointed out that many youth football coaches are volunteers who played the game when they were younger. Meanwhile, the way that football basics are taught has evolved since they played.
Anderson wants parents to be empowered so they can determine if coaches are teaching the correct tackling techniques, understand how to respond to injuries, and encourage their kids — as Anderson does when she is on the sidelines at her sons’ games — to keep their heads up when playing.
While the work that USA Football is doing focuses on one sport, Anderson says she knows there is risk involved with many activities. Anderson noted that her daughter participated in lacrosse and gymnastics — and just like football — Anderson needed to be aware of the risks of injury and how to help protect her daughter. Anderson is a fan of youth sports for the benefits they offer to children, and will use the platform that the NFL Foundation provides to help raise awareness of safety in sports among parents so they can make the best decisions for their children.
USA Football’s Heads Up Football program instructs ‘master trainers’
USA Football will instruct more than 20 football experts — including high school coaches and former NFL and college players — as Heads Up Football Master Trainers during a workshop March 2-3 in Indianapolis.
Following their training in Indianapolis, Master Trainers will teach USA Football’s Heads Up Football program to youth league leaders across the country. This encompasses teaching USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling system, educating leagues on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concussion recognition and response protocols and instructing on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
Among those serving as Heads Up Football Master Trainers this season:
* Buddy Curry — played eight seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, named 1980 Co-Defensive Rookie of the Year by The Associated Press.
* Chuck Kyle, head coach, Cleveland St. Ignatius High School — winner of 11 Ohio Division I state titles and three USA Today national championships
* John Roderique, head coach, Webb City (Mo.) High School — has led Webb City for 16 seasons, winning eight state championships
* Steve Specht, head coach, Cincinnati St. Xavier High School — winner of two Ohio Division I state titles and the 2012 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year
Heads Up Football, adopted by youth leagues across the country for this fall, focuses on four primary tenets: coaching education, concussion recognition and response, tackling technique, and equipment fitting. The initiative was launched in fall 2012 with the NFL’s support.
Heads Up Tackling was developed with contributions of USA Football’s Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, UCLA head coach Jim Mora, former NFL running back Merril Hoge, Miami Christopher Columbus High School head coach Chris Merritt and sports psychologist DR. David Yukelson. Heads Up Tackling has been endorsed by several current NFL head coaches and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
– NFL Communications