Every year, thousands of young football players sustain a variety of injuries, ranging from sprained muscles to concussions to serious head injuries.
Football is a popular sport in America. It isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, despite these incidents. Researchers have been working to tackle this problem by trying to identify the greatest risk factors and learn possible methods of prevention.
One of those studies was recently released by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention. Analysts culled data from more than 2,100 young football players, ranging in age from 5 to 15. These individuals were involved in more than 100 teams across 10 youth leagues in four states.
What they discovered was that when coaches were more educated on head injuries and head injury prevention, players were better protected and suffered fewer injuries. Specifically, players and teams that saw a significantly reduced number of injuries to the head had received and completed training in the “Heads-Up Football” program, offered by USA Football.
The results were rather dramatic. Players who participated on the teams in which coaches had been educated were nearly 35 percent less likely to get a concussion during practice. They were 30 percent less likely to suffer a concussion in the midst of a game. Over the course of a season, this amounted to an average of 90 fewer hits per player – which significantly reduces the potential for injury to each participant.
The chief researcher for the 3-year study says the results indicate head injury education should be mandatory for all youth coaches.
Researchers also examined the impact of hits sustained by 72 of the 9-to-15-year-old players, whose helmets were outfitted with devices that would track those hits. Study authors discovered 38 players of the 72 whose coaches had undergone head injury education suffered 2.5 fewer head impacts per practice. Over a 12-week season, that amounted to 90 fewer major hits per season, versus those whose coaches hadn’t received the training.
Further, those who played for educated coaches were 75 percent less likely to get hurt and nearly 60 percent less likely to sustain injuries that kept them off the field for a day or more.
Although the study was commissioned by USA Football, researchers were quick to say they could not promote its education program over others. They simply wanted to point out that it’s important for coaches to be informed about proper equipment fitting and tackling techniques.
The game tended to be safer for younger players, and the number of hits and degree of impact increased as the players aged.
Another recent study found that National Football League players who started playing the game before age 12 had a significantly greater head impairment than those who started the game later. That was according to research conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine, which published its findings in the journal Neurology.
The research analyzed brain function of 42 former NFL players currently between the ages of 40 and 69. The findings suggest when those game-related hits happen to a brain that is still developing, the impact could be greater.
Schools and youth sports leagues have a responsibility to ensure their players have the proper equipment, that best practices are followed and that youth receive prompt medical attention when an injury does occur. Failure to do so resulting in injury could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Study: educated youth football coaches can cut injuries, Feb. 16, 2015, Associated Press
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Sanislo v. Give Kids The World, Inc. – Florida Supreme Court Upholds Liability Waiver, Feb. 25, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Child Injury Lawyer Blog