We have stated on here that legislation is only a small step in the way of stemming the concussion issue. Awareness is the of the highest priority for the general public (and partly for the medical providers) and both Maryland and Indiana reported some good news today.
Thomas Hearn, a Montgomery County parent whose son received a concussion playing football at Walt Whitman High School, has testified before the state school board and Montgomery County school board, asking members to consider requiring parents to get more training in recognizing the signs of concussions and limiting the number of contact practices. He said the new state law doesn’t go far enough.
High school students can still have contact practices twice a day and five days a week, Hearn said. While there are no reliable statistics on how many of the 115,000 athletes in public schools in the state suffer concussions while playing sports, he suggested that if you extrapolate from the experience of Virginia school systems that have kept careful records, there may be as many as 6,000 a year in Maryland.
“Between now and the start of football season in August, you need to consider why you shouldn’t at least adopt the NFL and Ivy League limits for Maryland high school football,” Hearn said in his testimony before the board last month.
In 2011, the NFL limited practices with contact to about one a week. While the NCAA does not have the limits, the Ivy League adopted rules last July that permitted no more than two practices with contact a week.
The limits are intended to reduce the number of concussive hits players experience. Tackles or hits also can produce subconcussive injuries that do not have symptoms but over time have been shown to increase the risk of long-term health issues.
A new article burst on the scene today from Ken Murray and the Baltimore Sun taking a look at studies that addressed concussions in the sport of football. Even with the attention today being given to the injury, most particularly football, it seems that researchers are just now delving into it. There have been a multitude of studies done and ongoing addressing this. One of the leaders in this area is Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz from the University of North Carolina.
Guskiewicz said that on average, North Carolina players had 950 impacts per player per season at practice. (The study was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and by the National Operating Committee in Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
Guskiewicz said it was not just the number of concussions that was important, but the effect of sub-concussive impacts over an extended time, such as those sustained by NFL players.
Another study referenced in the Baltimore Sun article, done at Oklahoma University, using the same accelerometers to measure impact forces on the player being commented on by Dr. Julian Bailes.
Bailes drew similar conclusions after Oklahoma University did the accelerometer study to measure impacts on its players. He said the big hits — like those on defenseless wide receivers and quarterbacks — drew 90 to 100 G’s. And that was defined as the threshold for losing consciousness.
“So the Oklahoma data established the threshold for humans being knocked out,” Bailes said. “But what was amazing to me, they showed also that linemen were getting [impacts of] 20 to 30 G’s on every play.”
What is significant with this wonderful article by Ken Murray, is that more information is being gathered by researchers of the “non-traumatic” type head injuries. As we have seen with previous posts about CTE the accumulation of all these head injuries can be extremely dangerous. How and where we go from here in terms of rules/game changes for safety is not up to us. But developing a prevention plan, educating and making others aware could be a good step in the right direction.