According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, football persists to be the top sport played in the United States of America. As popular as football may be, it has never been the safest sport when it comes to head injuries. Concussions are caused by a hit to the head or a severe shaking of the head and body. Concussions have been a growing issue in sports for many years now. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of reports on concussion injuries among football players. The Mayo Clinic reported that people under the age of eighteen and over the age of two are affected by concussions the most – that means any youth sports player is at risk of getting a concussion, especially in the football community.
Many young football athletes are constantly being thrown down on the field roughly, without proper blocking or tackling tactics, resulting in higher risk of concussion for youth football athletes. Over time, kids who constantly get concussions are likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy which is a condition known to cause vision and focusing problems, dementia, depression, aggression and much more. For example, there have been a significant amount of findings on long-term brain injuries among NFL players. A study conducted by the American Academy of Neurology displayed that football and brain injuries are highly correlated. Nearly forty percent of retired NFL players had shown brain injuries. This is just one of the reasons why youth football athletes are at a greater risk.
While everyone should worry about sports risks and injuries like concussions – there are ways they can be avoided with the right safety regulations and procedures. Youth football players in Greenville County show us one example on how they achieved just that.
Several research studies were conducted by the South Carolina Center for Effectiveness Research in Orthopedics. They compared 1,818 football athletes from Greenville County high school who participated in the Heads Up program against the 900 players who were not a part of the Heads Up program. The demographics were similar among all the football players. They were all around the age of 15 and close to the same body size and stature. The results were astounding.
There was a 33-percent decrease in concussions during games and practices. There was also a 40-percent decrease for games only.
Researcher and director of the athletic injury research, Ellen Shanley, believes that the Heads Up program showed drastic and great improvements in concussion prevention among the Greenville County high school players. She presumes that implementing similar programs for sports like soccer and other sports with high concussion rates are bound to show similar results.
The Heads Up program was developed by USA Football to increase safety among football athletes. There are eight key steps that the program focuses on coaching education, equipment fitting, concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness and hydration, heads up tackling, heads up blocking, sudden cardiac arrest, and player safety coach.
These eight fundamental key steps are very important in contributing towards every player’s health and safety on the field. The Heads Up program includes step-by-step videos on proper tackling and blocking procedures that help reduce injuries occurring on the field. The program ensures that every coach is certified and trained in injury prevention and recognition. Ultimately, these techniques help eliminate future and present risks and injuries.
Every kid should be able to play the sport they love without having to worry about getting an injury such as a concussion and suffering in the long run. And every parent should be able to enjoy watching their child play a sport without having to worry about their child getting hurt. That is why it is imperative to start applying programs such as Heads Up in sports with high concussion rates to reduce concussions and other injuries in the youth sports circle.