Archive for the ‘Concussion’ Category

Heads Up Football’s False Concussion Claims Exposed by New York Times

A recent article in the New York Times entitled “N.F.L.-Backed Youth Program Says It Reduced Concussions. The Data Disagrees” has exposed USA Football / Heads Up Football for publicizing misleading data and conclusions about the findings in the Datalys study. In their blogs, USAFB crowed about the effectiveness of the Heads Up Football program in reducing concussions; however, the actual data from the study do not support this.

Sadler Sports Insurance realized that misleading statements were being made several months ago after an independent review of the Datalys Study and mentioned this in our blog entitled AYF Study: 2005-15 Concussion Trends in Youth Tackle Football. We are in favor of getting the head out of the tackle, but have serious concerns about any program that publishes misleading conclusions in its blogs, especially when making the claim that their program is the standard in youth tackle football.

USAFB hired Datalys to study effectiveness of HUF and  practice contact restrictions

USAB hired and funded Datalys Center, an independent research firm specializing in sports injury research and prevention, to study player safety in youth football on a national level. They did so in an effort to promote safer playing standards and lessen injury risk, including concussions. Datalys completed a study in 2014 entitled Comprehensive Coach Education and Practice Contact Restriction Guidelines Result in Lower Injury Rates in Youth American Football.  The study compared overall injury rates, lost time injury rates, and concussion rates between three groups:

  1. Heads Up Football Leagues with Practice Restrictions (Combined HUF | Practice restriction)
  2. Heads Up Football Leagues without Practice Restrictions (HUF Only)
  3. Non Heads Up Football Leagues (Non HUF)

The study has been widely cited by USAFB and the NFL as evidence that Heads Up Football  leagues have significantly fewer injuries and fewer concussions than Non HUF leagues.

The unstated reason for the study was to prove that the HUF Only group significantly reduced concussion rates vs the Non HUF group.

It’s my opinion that the primary reason for the study was to find out if the HUF initiative reduces concussion rates in youth tackle football. Youth tackle football is under attack by the media and various researchers and activists, not because there are too many overall injuries, but instead because there are too many concussions and subconcussive impacts.

However, the statistics generated from the study were not favorable for the HUF Only leagues as regards to reduction of concussion rates. The concussion rates for the Non HUF leagues were actually a little lower than the HUF Only group, as will be explained.

USAFB made misleading claims about Datalys study

In various online publications such as its blog, USAFB made the following statement as regards the Datalys study (but recently taken down):

“Compared to non-Heads Up Football leagues, leagues that adopted Heads Up Football had a 34 percent reduction in concussions in practices and a 29 percent reduction of concussions in games.”

To the extent this statement appears to compare HUF Only leagues vs. Non HUF leagues, this is just not true according to Table 2 in the 2014 Datalys study.

What the math really says about concussion rates in HUF Only leagues vs Non HUF leagues

Table 2 of the Datalys study indicated the following about concussion rates in Combined HUF | Practice restriction leagues vs. HUF Only leagues vs. Non HUF leagues:

 

Practice concussion rate

Game concussion rate

Combined HUF|Practice restriction

.19

 

.68

HUF Only

.65

 

1.50

Non HUF

.58

 

1.46

Concussion rate is the rate per 1000 “athlete-exposures,” defined as one athlete’s participation in one practice or one competition.

It’s clear that the concussion rates are actually slightly greater for the HUF Only leagues as compared to the Non HUF leagues in both practices and in games, although these slight differences were statistically insignificant.

Practice restrictions drove the reduction in concussion rates in the study

The Combined HUF | Practice Restriction Group produced significantly lower concussion rates as compared to both the HUF Only leagues and the Non HUF leagues. Why is this the case? Is it the combined synergistic effect of HUF + practice restrictions or is it primarily due to practice restrictions?

The researchers lamented not having a group of leagues to study that consisted of leagues with practice restrictions, but not HUF. That is the only true way to isolate the practice restriction variable. Regardless, instituting HUF without practice restrictions did not reduce concussions.

Was a new group formed after the fact to rescue HUF?

It is possible that the misleading statistics referenced in the USAFB blogs differ from the Datalys study due to an attempt to rehabilitate the poor HUF Only performance?  A new group may have been formed, called “Leagues that implemented Heads Up Football,” consisting of all leagues that used HUF, regardless of whether or not they also used practice restrictions. Data from this new group is consistent with the statistics that were referenced in the USAFB blogs, which USAFB has since taken down. Because the injury rates were much lower in HUF leagues that used practice restrictions, the Datalys report separated out these groups to show the difference, whereas the USAFB blogs may have combined these groups to hide these differences. The statistics that were created in the blogs were misleading because they implied that HUF was the driving force behind lower injury rates and don’t give the practice restrictions the proper credit.

Our conclusions and what this means for brain injury / concussion risk management

We still believe that removing the head from the tackle is an important element of a youth tackle football brain injury / concussion risk management program.  However, it is clearly not the primary solution as touted by USAFB and the NFL. USAFB has hurt its credibility with this misleading marketing campaign.

AYF Study: 2005-15 Concussion Trends in Youth Tackle Football

Provides perspective for impact of education, getting head out of tackle, and practice restrictions

The latest American Youth Football (AYF) study on concussion trends reveals that education of administrators, coaches, parents, and players is having a positive impact on the identification of and more aggressive response to concussions. On the other hand, popular initiatives to remove the head from the tackle and practice contact restrictions may have a more limited role than portrayed by various groups due to the high percentage of concussions that would not be impacted by these measures. Nevertheless, these initiatives are important components of a broad based brain injury/concussion risk management program.

Updated statistics based on Accident insurance claims for 2005-15 seasons

AYF is the largest youth football organization in the U.S. and represents a wide cross section of players aged five to 15.  The data in this study is based on Accident insurance claims filed with the endorsed AYF insurance program through Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance. An injury questionnaire consisting of some 20 questions is completed by the authorized team official as a part of the claims filing process and the answers are input into a database. A variety of reports can be produced to drill down to answer specific questions about concussions. The study includes 3,855 injuries reported from 2005 through 2015 of which 434 are concussions. This study is a representative sample of concussion trends occurring not only in AYF, but in youth tackle football as a whole.

Concussions as a percentage of total injuries

What this tells us about the positive impact of concussion education
 

2015 14.48%
2014 16.18%
2013 16.41%
2012 15.99%
2011 11.55%
2010 7.73%
2009 8.20%
2008 6.36%
2007 5.88%
2006 3.80%
2005 6.72%
Total All Years 11.26%

Notice the spike in concussions reported in 2011 and continuing through 2015. This coincides with the media reports of the NFL class action lawsuit, other concussion related lawsuits, autopsies indicating CTE in deceased pro football players, and anecdotal stories of disabled pro athletes. This also coincides with the beginning of widespread and heavily publicized educational efforts on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and various football-sanctioning and governing bodies on concussion recognition, removal-from-play, medical response, and return-to-play protocols.

It appears that the media attention and educational efforts to train administrators, coaches, parents, and players are having a positive impact in that concussions are taken more seriously and reported more frequently than in past years. Suspected concussions are resulting in increased rates of emergency room and doctor office visits, and diagnosed concussions are resulting in more follow up care as pertains to return-to-play protocols. Overall, Accident insurance carriers are experiencing increased claims payouts for concussion care.

Concussion by situation (physical cause at point of contact)

What this tells us about initiatives to remove the head from the tackle and to limit contact at practice
 

Tackled by player 23%
Contact with ground 23%
Collision with opponent 18%
Tackling player 7%
Blocked by player 7%
Collision with teammate 6%
Blocking player 5%
Other 3%
Total 100%

The initiative to take the head out of contact as detailed by the Seahawks Tackling video or Heads Up Football (HUF) is very important, but not the magic silver bullet to solve the concussion problem in youth tackle football.

For argument’s sake, assuming that the initiative to remove the head from the tackle is 100% effective in reducing concussions (Datalys study by Kerr on HUF refutes this – see paragraph below), this would result in a reduction of concussions by 30% (sum of tackled by player 23% plus tackling player 7%). If heads-up blocking is added to this equation, that would result in a total reduction of 42% (add blocked by player 7% plus blocking player 5%). The other 58% of concussion claims that occur due to contact with ground, collision with opponent, collision with teammate, and other would not be touched by this initiative.

The above analysis assumes that HUF is 100% effective in reducing concussion claims arising from tackling and blocking. To the contrary, the Datalys study by Kerr in Table 2 indicates that HUF-only leagues have slightly higher concussion rates that non-HUF leagues. Let’s hope that future concussion studies with more participants reach a different conclusion.

On the other hand, the initiative to limit contact at practice would likely have a larger impact in reducing concussions among more categories of physical causes of loss, including contact with ground, collision with opponent, and collision with teammate.

Concussion by activity being performed

 

Tackling 33%
Running with ball 30%
Blocking 15%
Running w/out ball 6%
Shedding blocker 5%
Passing 3%
Catching ball 2%
Recovering fumble 1%
Other 5%
Total 100%

Concussion by event type (practice or game)

What this tells us about initiatives to remove the head from the tackle and to limit contact at practice
 

Practice 32%
Game 65%
Other 3%
Total 100%

Since most concussions occur during games and not practices, the initiative to limit contact at practice would only impact those 32% of concussions that occur during practice. With regard to the initiative to remove the head from the tackle, it’s easier to get the head out of the tackle in controlled practice drills as opposed to live action during games, and as a result, its effectiveness should be expected to be diminished as well.

Concussion by position played

 

Running back 20%
Linebacker 16%
Defensive line 16%
Quarterback 10%
Offensive line 8%
Secondary 7%
Receiver 4%
Practice drills 4%
Kickoff returner 2%
Kickoff blocker 2%
Kickoff tackler 2%
Punt tackler 1%
Punt return blocker 1%
Other 7%
Total 100%

 

Concussion by type of play from perspective of injured participant

 

Offense 42%
Defense 42%
Receiving kickoff 4%
Other practice 3%
Kicking off 2%
Punting 1%
Kicking field goal/extra point 1%
Other 5%
Total 100%

The kickoff accounts for 6% of total concussion injuries: 4% when receiving kickoffs plus 2% when kicking off. That statistic does not seem to be out of proportion with the total percentage of plays in a typical game that are kickoffs. Pop Warner recently banned kickoffs for ages 10 and under starting with the 2016 season due to perceived risks.  Based on our statistics, banning kickoffs would not appear to reduce concussion rates.

Concussion and absence from play

 

2011-2015 2005-2010
1 to 3 Weeks 44% 46%
3+ Weeks 27% 15%
1 to 7 Days 11% 18%
None 2% 7%
Unknown/Not Answered 16% 15%
Total 100% 100%

The period from 2011 to 2015 shows increased absence from play, i.e. later return-to-play times, presumably due to following suggested return-to-play protocols. The 3+ weeks category shows a significant increase with significant decreases in the “1 to 7 Days” and “None” categories. This is further evidence that increased educational initiatives are having a positive impact on concussion treatment.

Concussion and weight of injured player compared to other players

 

About-average weight 78%
Below-average weight 10%
Above-average weight 6%
Significantly below-average weight 1%
Significantly above-average weight 1%
Other 4%
Total 100%

It appears that players of below-average weight are only slightly more susceptible to concussions than players in the other weight categories. Players classified as significantly below-average weight have the same percentage of concussions as players of significantly-above average weight.

Conclusions about concussions from the study of Accident insurance claims

The higher rates of concussion reporting and more aggressive medical care and return-to-play protocols seem to validate that concussion education is having a positive impact. Initiatives to get the head out of the tackle and to limit contact at practice, while not game changers in themselves, are important components of a broad based concussion/brain injury risk management program as they have the potential to reduce a significant percentage of concussions and subconcussive impacts. Our statistics indicate that practice restrictions may play a larger role than removing the head from the tackle. Additional studies with more participants are required before firm conclusions can be drawn on these concussion reducing initiatives.

2016 Insurance Program Released For American Youth Football

AYFThe gold standard that is the envy of the competition

The American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports Insurance, has released the new 2016 insurance program for teams /associations /conferences.

Detailed 2016 coverage, rate information, and online enrollment are available now on our website!

Get Quote Now

The 2016 offering is, once again, the gold standard in youth football and cheer insurance with an unbeatable combination of low rates, broad custom coverages, and best-in-industry automation that allows instant online enrollment and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. But that’s not all: the program also provides best-in-industry risk management resources to prevent injuries before they become claims and groundbreaking studies on safety in youth football and cheer.

Apply, pay, and print proof of coverage documents and certificates in as little as 10 minutes

Our advanced automation is so simple and fast that you can complete the entire insurance purchase transaction and print all your documents in as little as 10 minutes. Many competitors require the completion of forms and days of waiting just to get a quote. Then, once the quote is bound, it can take several days to get the proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. Or, they could charge $100 extra for next day rush delivery.

After the purchase, we provide our clients access to our website so that they can self-issue certificates for new field owners 24/7. It’s so easy and our clients love this benefit.

Beware of competing programs that seem too good to be true

We often hear stories about a competitor offering cut-rate policies with a per team rate that is too low to be believable. Whenever this happens, something ends up being defective with the offering, which illustrates that if something is too good to be true, it usually is. We’ve seen cases where the quoted price did not include the cost of both the Accident and General Liability policies, where the organization never reported the transaction to the insurance carrier and no insurance was in force, and where a big corporation was going to foot the bill for the insurance (dream on), etc. Just this year we found a competitor that was bragging about their great insurance program but had grossly misrepresented its limits and coverages to the public. We brought this to the attention of their insurance carrier and corrections were made. After a little bit of digging, these schemes fall apart.

What is being done to combat the risk of concussion/brain injury and related litigation?

Sadler Sports Insurance provides a sample Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) that is strongly recommended for all teams/associations/conferences. This free program can be found under the risk management section of our AYF Insurance page. This program consolidates accepted risk management practices into a three-page document for easy board adoption and implementation. We recommend coaches complete the AYF coaching education program. Certification is required of head football and cheer coaches participating in AYF national championships. We also encourage coaches, volunteers and players view our Seahawks’ tackle resources page. which demonstrates their tackling methods. AYF has provided a certification test to take in conjunction with this video on myafy.com. It is important for all teams/association/conferences to thicken their shields by adopting and fully implementing a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. The future of our sports depends on this action and it’s the right thing to do to protect the kids.

Check Out Our New, Improved AYF Webpage And Video And Our 98% Staff Awesome Rating

Our AYF/AYC webpage has been totally redesigned for an enhanced user experience where our prospect and clients can access all of our services (ex: applying, renewing, issuing certificates, add/delete teams, claims, etc.) without ever having to speak to a staff member at Sadler. However, should you have a question or need assistance, you can contact our staff by email, chat, or phone. We are very proud that surveys indicate that our staff is graded as 98% “Awesome” by those who have contacted us.

Also, all the football and cheer specific risk management content and related blogs are now available directly from the webpage.

In addition, we created a new video that can be viewed individually or by a small group to explain how to access our insurance and risk management services.

Best-in-industry risk management resources (free)

We have an incredible line up of free risk management resources including articles, legal forms, risk management program templates for your easy adoption and customization, and training videos for administrators and staff. This includes the newly created document entitled Sample AYF/AYC Advanced Plan, which is a comprehensive risk management program customized for AYF/AYC organizations.

Be a part of groundbreaking injury studies

If you purchase your insurance through the endorsed insurance program, all Accident claims automatically become part of the database where our custom software analyzes the information to produce meaningful injury reports. This has led to groundbreaking studies on the comparison of injuries in age only vs age/weight categories and the incidence of concussions within AYF/AYC.

Get Quote Now

Please visit our webpage at www.sadlersports.com/ayf or call us at 800-622-7370 if you have any questions.

 

The Truth About Concussion Risk Management in Youth Football

How to Plan a Youth Football Brain Injury Risk Management Program

Local associations must adopt and implement a concussion/brain injury management program to battle looming liability crisis.

For the past three years, Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance has been urging our youth tackle football clients to implement comprehensive brain injury risk management programs to help to prevent injuries and resulting lawsuits from becoming insurance claims. In the event that a lawsuit is filed by an injured participant, whether from a single concussion, multiple concussions, or cumulative traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it is crucial for a local association to show that it has complied with the national standard of care for brain injury protection. Doing so not only protects the players against injuries and the association and staff against lawsuits, but also protects the General Liability insurance carrier, which makes it more likely that brain injury coverage will be available in the future.

Standard of care owed is determined by state legislation, case law, sanctioning and governing bodies, risk management resources, and expert witnesses

In a negligence-based lawsuit, the claimant filing the lawsuit must prove that a duty was owed, the duty was breached, and that the breach was the cause of the damages. The duty that is owed is also known as the standard of care. The standard of care to protect against brain injury for youth football players will be determined by state legislation, case law, sanctioning and governing bodies, risk management resources, and expert witnesses.

Depending on the source, some standards are mandated and others are recommended or are just guidelines. However, understand that the claimant’s attorney will argue that even recommended standards and guidelines should be implemented by a reasonable and prudent youth football association.

9 Elements of a solid written risk management program for youth football associations

The following elements should be considered by local tackle football associations when developing their concussion/brain injury risk management program.

  1. Written program

A written risk management program should be adopted by board action and communicated to all administrators, staff, players, and parents. A written program that builds in accountability is much more likely to be implemented than a program that is not in writing.

  1. Educational awareness through online training and information handouts

Coaches should receive training and certification in both 1) concussion basics for youth sports through the CDC Concussion Training CourseNAYS Concussion Training Course, or a similar online course, and 2) a tackle training program on how to remove the head from the tackle such as through Seahawks Tackling.

Players and Parents should receive and be required to sign off and return to the association a concussion fact sheet handout from the CDC or a similar source at the beginning of every season.

  1. Document retention

The local association should maintain documentation of coach training certificates and player/parent fact sheets for 15 years. Note that a 5-year-old child may wait until age 20 in many states before filing a lawsuit for a past injury.

  1. Baseline and post injury neurocognitive testing

This is a rapidly changing area with the emergence of new, lower-cost technologies where baseline and post-injury testing can be delivered on the sidelines through smart phones and tablets. So far, baseline neurocognitive testing is considered to be a voluntary measure in most instances.

  1. Identify suspected cases of concussions

The highest medical authority (M.D., D.O.,  athletic trainer, or person with EMT or Red Cross certification) at a practice or game should make the call in terms of signs observed by parents, guardians, or sports staff and symptoms reported by player. The highest authority must be aware of danger signs that would result in an immediate trip to the emergency room and in questions to ask and exertional maneuvers to perform to identify a potential concussion. Identification of potential concussions is a rapidly evolving area with a number of new tools that have recently hit the market or that will soon be available, such as helmet impact indicators, smart phone/tablet apps for sideline testing of memory and fine motor coordination to compare to baseline results, tablet eye-tracking devices, telemedicine with doctors via smart phones, etc.

  1. Actions to take if a concussion is suspected

Remove the athlete from play, make sure the athlete is evaluated by an M.D. or D.O., inform parents through the CDC fact sheet, and keep the athlete out of play until written return-to-play medical clearance is received from a qualified medical provider. Some state concussion laws allow return-to-play medical clearance by a “health care provider” which may also encompass professionals such as physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners.

  1. Reduce full contact during practices

The Datalys Study by Kerr indicates that limiting contact at practice may reduce concussions in youth tackle football. Governing and sanctioning bodies have started to adopt contact limitation guidelines.

  1. Proper fitting and care of helmets

This has always been and continues to be of critical importance in protecting youth football players from head and neck injuries. A number of online guides and videos are available from helmet manufacturers to assist coaches and equipment managers in this area. A list of these sources can be found on the risk management section of our website.

  1. Compliance with state concussion laws and governing body and sanctioning body requirements or recommendations

Any risk management program should comply with the standards as prescribed by state concussion legislation (this only applies to schools in some states) and governing body (USAFB) and sanctioning body (AYF, Pop Warner) requirements and recommendations.

Based on my 30 years of experience in the sports insurance niche and the potential for brain injury litigation, I would not want to be a board member or staff member involved with a youth tackle football organization that did not have an effective, formally-adopted and fully-implemented written concussion/brain injury risk management program.

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance has developed a sample concussion/brain injury risk management program for our youth football clients that incorporates the elements listed above and that can be downloaded from our website in WORD document format.

Fear of Concussions in Youth Sports

More effort in awareness and education needed

The anxiety level among Americans regarding concussions was found to be quite high according to a recent online survey. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the survey among 2012 Americans over the age of 18. The results highlight the myths and misunderstanding about concussions.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed consider concussions to be a moderate to severe health concern. Nearly one-third of parents said they fear their child will suffer a concussion, and 25% do not allow their children to play contact sports because they fear they’ll suffer a concussion.

Ironically, 26% of the parents surveyed did not seek medical treatment when someone in their family suffered a concussion. Worse, 81% of those surveyed said they would not know the steps to take in treating a concussion if they sustained one.

More statistics from the survey:

  • 87% did not know the definition of a concussion, and 37% admit to being confused as to what a concussion actually is.
  • 58% could not identify headache or dizziness as immediate symptoms of a concussion.
  • Only 34% understand that fatigue is also a symptom and just 13% know that mood changes can also be the result of a concussion.
  • 79% of adults incorrectly think concussions are incurable and that the symptoms can only be managed.

Decreasing the level of fear

Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports. While there has been much progress in educating coaches, trainers, parents and players about concussion risk management and treatment, there’s much work to be done.

Sports are a healthy physical and social activity for children and teens, and fear of injury should not prevent them from participating. Concussions are treatable and when properly managed, athletes can return to play. “With careful evaluation and treatment by a well-trained specialist, even the most complex injuries are manageable,” says Erin Reynolds, fellowship director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Click here for the full survey results. We have more articles on concussions on our blog and offer free concussion risk management material in our risk management library.


Source: Susan Manko, “Are American Parents Too Afraid of Concussions?” futurity.org. 05 Oct, 2015.

Youth Football Endorsed by Concussion Doctor

Risks of CTE are anecdotal, without evidence

Julian Bailes is is the brain researcher portrayed by actor Alec Baldwin in the movie Concussion. He works closely with Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who it can be said started the war on concussions in football. But while the two partner to study traumatic brain injuries, they have differing opinions regarding the risks of concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)  in youth football.

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by Omalu, who is a vocal opponent of youth tackle football. Bailes, on the other hand, encourages youngsters to participate in youth football and other organized sports. He cites both the social benefits and ongoing safety improvements in leagues since the furor over concussions began several years ago.

Research vs. anecdotal evidence

Bailes, whose two children play football, is the chairman of the Pop Warner Football medical advisory committee. He’s concerned that the film and Omalu’s article will inevitably keep many parents from having their children play contact sports. He disagrees with the premise that youngsters are at risk for CTE, which results from repeated blows to the head. In his opinion, CTE is an issue for only a minority of former NFL players and a few current players  due to the safety reforms that have been put in place.

Bailes also points out that former players determined to have suffered CTE, which is only diagnosable after death, were those who were known to have displayed possible signs of the disease.

There are no facts supporting diagnosed cases of CTE or brain damage in youth that resulted from playing youth football, said Bailes. Bailes wants parents to understand how the sport has specifically improved the rules for safer play and practice. The ongoing efforts of concussion awareness education for players, parents, and coaches helps parents make the best decision for their child. He concedes that other changes may be ahead such as eliminating punt returns to make the sport as safe as possible.

Concussion risk management

Children participate in risky activities all the time, from snow skiing to driving a car.“We teach [our children] a lot of sports and activities, and so part of that is our responsibility to teach them the safe and right way to do it. But at the end of the day all these activities have potential risks,”  said Bailes.

We have many articles on concussions and risk management programs for youth football and other sports. We at Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance take great pride in promoting the prevention of injuries and best risk management practices so claims can be avoided. Feel free to contact us for more information or for assistance in getting a fast quote for your league or team.


Source: Neil Best, “Concussion’ neurosurgeon Julian Bailes endorses youth football,” newsday.com. 10 Dec. 2015.

10-Second Sideline Concussion Test

 Software tracks eye movement on iPad

As the sports world continues to focus on concussion prevention, it’s no wonder innovators are coming up with faster, smarter ways to detect a brain injuries. EyeGuide, start-up group out of Texas, has introduced a concussion

EyeGuide’s Focus technology uses a headset connected to an iPad to track eye movement. Users set a baseline reading and then repeat the test when it’s suspected they may have suffered a concussion. Coaches can have each player take the test at the beginning of the season to set their normal baseline eye function. The Focus is then used on the sidelines for immediate comparison on players suspected of suffering concussions.

New technology using known methods of concussion detection.

EyeGuide’s Focus system was developed after years of research at Texas Tech University. The software quickly measures neurological impairment following protocols established in neuroscience research. There are similar products on the market aimed at aiding coaches and trainers to detect concussions immediately.

Eyeguide explains the Focus technology in layman’s terms by comparing it to the follow-my-finger eye test given to suspected drunk drivers.

Players avoiding concussion diagnosis vs. intelligent technology

Approximately 500,000 concussions are reported in youth sports across the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Eyeguide, knowing that even more concussion go unreported, took into account that players fear being removed from play if they report symptoms of a concussion.The Focus technology gets smarter with use as it compares each player’s eye movements with a database of other athlete’s records. This prevents players from cheating the system.

Company still awaiting funding

The company is still awaiting start-up financing, which it believes to be imminent. Therefore, the product has not yet hit the market.

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is all about safety and injury prevention. We offer more information on concussion research and prevention on our blog and free concussion risk management resources in our risk management library.


Source:  Mary-Ann Russon, “EyeGuide Focus: This eye-tracking headset can diagnose concussions in just 10 seconds,” www.ibtimes.co.uk. 3 Dec. 2015.

U.S. Soccer Federation Sets New Header Rules For Ages 13 & Under

Reducing exposure to head injuries in the youngest players

New safety regulations were announced by the United States Soccer Federation in an effort to reduce the number of head injuries. These include the specific policy that restricts players under age 10 from heading the ball and reducing headers during practice for players aged 11 to 13.

Establishment of the new guidelines resolves a class-action lawsuit filed against FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization alleging negligence in treating and monitoring head injuries. Plaintiffs sought no financial compensation, only changes to the rules.

The guidelines are mandatory for all national U.S. Soccer youth teams and academies, which includes Major League Soccer youth club teams. They will serve as recommendations for associations and program not overseen by U.S. Soccer.

Recommendations go beyond heading the ball

Modifications were also made to substitution rules in an attempt to protect players suspected of having suffered concussions. The current rules are for three substitutions per game, but don’t allow for temporary substitutions so players sustaining a head injury can be properly examined.

The new initiative also calls for increased education for parents, players, coaches and referees, as well uniformity in handling youth concussions. The intention of these educational efforts could will lead to a better understanding and acceptance of the heading rules for children.


Source: Ben Strauss, “U.S. Soccer Resolving Lawsuit Will Limit Headers.” nytimes.com. 09 Nov, 2015.

Concussion Paranoia Trend in Youth Tackle Football on Decline

Many mainstream media outlets, bloggers and brain injury research groups have had a field day so far in reporting on the dangers of concussions and CTE and how youth tackle football is very dangerous. It seems as if many of them need for football to be very dangerous to further their interests. Generally, those in the media need an entertained audience and research groups need continued funding.

We recently blogged about two events that represent a return to common sense. The first is a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on safety in youth tackle football. The second is news that a judge dismissed a concussion class-action lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association. Interestingly enough, neither of these two events have received any significant amount of press.

Just to be clear, the media and these brain injury research groups have served an important function in the education of players, parents, administrators and staff on the dangers of concussions and too early return to play. They also reinforced the need for mandatory concussion risk management protocols that must be implemented by local youth tackle football organizations. Please see our youth tackle football brain injury risk management program under the concussion resources of the risk management page on our website. However, talk of widespread brain damage in youth football and the need to ban football is not based in science.

AAP Makes Safety Recommendations for Youth Tackle Football

American Academy of Pediatrics says no need to delay teaching of proper tackling techniques to younger age groups

The American Academy of Pediatrics is tackling the issue of safety in youth football with new recommendations published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics. The AAP statement is a result of research on football injuries, head and neck injuries in particular, and the connection between tackling to football-related injuries.

The main points of the AAP recommendations are:

  • Enforcement of proper tackling methods by officials and coaches, i.e. not tolerating head-first tackles.
  • Informing players about the benefits of play vs. potential risk of injury.
  • Offering more players opportunities to play through expansion of non-tackle leagues.
  • Putting athletic trainers on the field to assist in preventing injuries.

No perfect answers to safety risks

The removal or delay of introducing tackling are ideas that get floated regularly. According to Greg Landry, co-author of AAP’s recommendation statement, delaying the tackling experience until players are older and stronger could actually result in higher injury rates. The AAP would not go so far as to recommend removing tackling from youth football. Doing so would “dramatically reduce the risk of serious injuries to players, but it would fundamentally change the sport,” said William Meehan, III, a co-author of the statement.

The AAP stance is that proper tackling techniques should be taught early, even if tackling isn’t incorporated into the game. The AAP also encourages reducing the impact to players’ heads through ongoing coach instruction in proper tackling methods.

Tackle football is played by nearly 1.1 million high school players and consistently ranks as one of the most popular sports for youth athletes. There are untold millions  more ranging from 5 to 15 years of age playing in youth leagues.

In my opinion

These common sense recommendations help to restore balance when so many are trying to stir the pot and predict the “end of football” for their self serving interests. The bottom line is that all sports and recreational activities involve risks, but in most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks. I do question whether youth leagues can afford to have athletic trainers on the sidelines at every practice.


Source: “The American Academy of Pediatrics Tackles Youth Football Injuries.” aap.org. 25 Oct. 2015.