I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kids and Concussions: Playing it Safe

This has been a busy week for news about concussions after Commissioner Goodell announced the NFL’s $30 million donation to NIH to conduct research on brain injuries.  The NFL has set up a website to provide more details about its efforts on player safety, and that includes the concussion legislation which has been passed in 37 states, including South Dakota.

We don’t have all the answers right now on the effects of concussions on young athletes, so I applaud the NFL for getting serious about this research.  Parents need to know that efforts are being made at every level to improve equipment quality, and training for youth coaches.

Sports medicine programs around the country, including Sanford in Sioux Falls, are currently researching better ways to identify and treat concussions in young athletes and to educate parents and coaches about concussion symptoms.  Knowledge really is power when it comes to concussions, so teaching proper technique to youth coaches makes a real difference in preventing injury. Making sure parents and coaches can spot concussion symptoms and get medical help following an injury makes a difference as well.   

It will take a combination of all of these things to see improvements that affect player safety.  Those efforts are well underway, and the NFL’s donation is a timely reminder that whether they are beginners or pros, we all play a part in protecting our athletes.    

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