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New coalition aims to prevent head injuries to young athletes

With concerns around concussions and other types of brain injury at the forefront of discussion in all levels of sports in Orange County and throughout the country, a group of leading youth athletic organizations is banding together to try to make contact sports safer for kids. In so doing, they hope to ease the fears of nervous parents who are increasingly keeping their children out of team sports.

The newly-formed National Sports Concussion Coalition includes representatives from the National Council of Youth Sports, Sports Concussion Institute and American College of Sports Medicine, among others. It also includes people who represent national youth hockey, soccer, lacrosse, softball, basketball and football organizations. Among their partners are professional and college organizations, including the NFL and NCAA.

According to the head of the Sports Concussion Institute with approximately 60 million American students playing some type of sports, it is virtually impossible to determine how many sustain concussions because these conditions are often undiagnosed or unreported. Nonetheless, the numbers we do have are troubling. According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a quarter of a million kids between 10 and 19 years old went to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries in 2009.

The National Sports Concussion Coalition, which recently met for a planning session, will work with medical professionals, particularly those who are experts in concussions. They plan to combine their knowledge and resources to come up with best practices that will be used when diagnosing and treating brain injuries in student athletes.

The Sports Concussion Institute's Strickland insists that because of the increased awareness of the dangers of head injuries, sports are actually safer than ever before. He also credits better diagnostic and treatment techniques, as well as regulations that require kids who are injured to be seen by a medical professional before returning to the field.

With parents and other adults involved in youth sports becoming ever more vigilant about head injuries, it appears that this country is finally on the right track to preventing head injuries to young people that can impact them for their entire lives. Perhaps the next step is to better educate the student athletes themselves to recognize the signs of a brain injury and not be afraid to be their own advocates.

Source:, "Youth sports organizations team up on concussions" Eric Olson, Oct. 06, 2013

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