NFHS Develops Concussion Guidelines for Football

In what has been a long time coming the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released the long-awaited guidelines from their concussion summit in July.  The NFHS is basically the governing body that most, if not all, states look to when implementing rule changes in sports, policies for participation and for sports medicine advice/guidelines.  Many states do not act, even with good information, with out the NFHS “seal of approval”.

This has been evidenced in the past when it comes to concussion “mitigation”, in terms of undue risk – contact limitations.  There have been many states that have not waited for the NFHS (California, Arizona, Wisconsin come to mind) while there are others that sat on their hands regarding this topic.  Regardless of where your state is/was it now has some guidelines to follow when it comes to the controversial topic of impact exposure.

Before I post the full press release from the NFHS, I would like to highlight the recommendations from the 2014 NFHS Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head Impact;

  • “Live” and “Thud” are considered full-contact
    • I really like that there is a clear definition
  • Full-contact should be allowed in no more than 2-3 practices a week; 30 min a day and between 60-90 minutes a week.  Only glossed over was the fact that theNFHS strongly suggests that there should not be consecutive days of full-contact.
    • A great place to start, although there are a vast majority of programs, around here, that do not do more than 2-3 times a week.
    • The time limits are great.
    • Unaddressed is the specific back-to-back days of games to practice.  For example a Monday game and Tuesday full-contact practice.  Sure common sense should prevail, but there will be plenty of loophole finding on this issue.
  • Recognition of preseason practices needing more contact time to develop skills.
    • Obviously a sign that these guidelines are taking everything into consideration.
  • During 2-a-days only one session should be contact.
    • THANK YOU!
  • Review of total quarters played for each player
    • This has been one of my biggest points of contention with any concussion policy.  The risk for injury during a game is much higher and kids that play multiple levels have an exponentially higher risk.
    • Although nothing more was stated than above, this should get people talking and moving.  The issue, of course, will be monitoring this.  Regardless, the fact that this important point is included is a massive thumbs up!
  • Considerations for contact limits outside of traditional fall football season
    • Acknowledging the ever-growing practice of off-season practices.
  • Implementing a coach education program
    • Ideal for understanding all of this and the issues we face.
  • Education of current state laws and school policies (if schools don’t have one they should)
    • Putting pressure on the institutions to take some onus.
  • Emergency Action Plans (EAP) and Athletic Trainers should be utilized
    • AT’s should be at both games and practices.
    • EAP’s should be in place and the best person for taking care of an EAP is an AT.
    • The first “governing” body that has firmly suggested the use of athletic trainers for football at all levels in practice and games.  This is truly noteworthy, and appreciated.

Auspiciously omitted from this document was USA Football’s “Heads Up” tackling program.  They referenced the USA Football definitions of level of contact and coaching courses; but never mention the embattled “Heads Up” program.  I must say, my confidence in the NFHS has skyrocketed after reading this, and a lot has to do with the people on the task force.  I am looking squarely at: Mark Lahr, Tory Lindley, Steve McInerney and John Parsons.  Those gentleman are of the highest quality and character when it comes to athlete safety.

Here is the full press release…  Continue reading

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Schutt Puts Technology to Work on Helmet Label

Schutt Helmets out of Litchfield, Illinois has taken the warning label to new levels.  You know, those tags that seem to be in the way when we buy something new – often discarded as quickly as possible;

The new Schutt warning label will feature a permanent, interactive graphic called a QR Code, which can be scanned by any mobile device. Scanning the new Schutt warning label will launch CDC’s new “Heads Up” concussion app, making it very easy for millions of football players, fans, coaches and parents to get the information they’re looking for.

“There is no organization in the country that is more highly recognized for their unbiased and objective work on concussions than CDC,” said Robert Erb, CEO of Schutt Sports. “By using this QR Code on our warning label, we’ll make the very best information from the very best source available immediately – and permanently – on our helmets. We briefly thought about just using a simple hangtag, but we know very few actually get read. Most are thrown away. We wanted to do something more useful than that and really produce something positive in the marketplace.”

Players, coaches and parents can read the new warning label – which has the same text as before – but can now also scan the QR Code, which will launch the “Heads Up” app on their mobile device or make it easy for the user to download the app.

I do applaud the effort to educate in the easiest possible way, as well as use of the CDC.  When people start to take the time to truly understand about concussions (and all the equipment involved in any sport) we will begin to see a paradigm shift.

You can view the images below and read the full press release;  Continue reading

NOCSAE; Moving Quickly

At the end of the Winter Board Meeting, some things were left undecided, but one area that was bandied about was the “audit” of helmet manufacturers and their testing.  Well, NOCSAE has reacted quickly with a press release about that subject:

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, January 24, 2011 – The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) recently required football helmet manufacturers to submit all certification test data, quality control and sample selection documentation for all football helmets manufactured or sold within the past 10 years. All football helmet manufacturers have complied with the request. NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission to enhance athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment.

“NOCSAE made this request as part of our ongoing effort to evaluate all aspects of the football helmet standard and evaluate potential changes to the standards relating to lower level impacts,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director. “We are the only organization that brings together key areas of expertise to work together on behalf of athletes. Through our process, physicians, academic researchers, coaches, athletic trainers and manufacturers come together to establish standards that are designed to provide the maximum amount of protection to the athlete. In addition to our request for data, Continue reading