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Say what you want about the NFL and its self-serving ways from time to time. But its latest announced initiative will help reduce concussions. Specifically:
“The NFL Foundation, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), Gatorade and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) have announced the winners of the Athletic Trainer Initiative, a national grant contest to expand access to athletic trainers in underserved high schools and improve youth athlete safety. The fifteen winning schools each received $50,000 to develop athletic training programs that will provide nearly 5,000 student athletes with consistent access to this valuable resource. The announcement was made at the seventh-annual Youth Sports Safety Summit, hosted by NATA and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.
The winners of the national grant contest are (more details included below):
- Alden-Conger Public School (Alden, MN)
- Attica Central School (Attica, NY)
- California Lutheran High School (Wildomar, CA)
- Canyon Ridge High School (Twin Falls, ID)
- Carlisle High School (Henderson, TX)
- John Muir High School (Pasadena, CA)
- Lutheran High School (Chula Vista, CA)
- Marist High School (Bayonne, NJ)
- Mount St. Michael Academy (Bronx, NY)
- Orrick R-XI High School (Orrick, MO)
- Pleasant Valley High School (Chico, CA)
- Anthony Village High School (Minneapolis, MN)
- Thomas More High School (Rapid City, SD)
- Walpole High School (Walpole, MA)
- William V. Fisher Catholic High School (Lancaster, OH)
Ten additional high schools will receive an athletic safety presentation given by a local athletic trainer and a safety kit, which includes a Hydration Starter Kit from Gatorade and educational materials.
“This effort addresses a critical need and provides the means for these high schools to establish athletic training programs that will enhance the health and safety of their student athletes,” said Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of health and safety policy. “This is an area of priority for us, and we will continue to work with our partners to expand access to athletic trainers in more schools across the country.”
Athletic trainers play a vital role in the health and safety of athletes. A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that the presence of athletic trainers resulted in lower overall injury rates, improved diagnosis and return-to-play decisions for concussion and other injuries, and fewer recurrent injuries for student athletes. However, nearly two-thirds of high schools lack a full-time athletic trainer and almost thirty-percent do not have access to any athletic training services. This grant contest helps to tackle this need by providing schools with the necessary funding, educational resources, and programmatic support to put athletic trainers on the sidelines and better protect their athletes.
“A top priority of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association is the health and safety of the high school athlete,” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “Through our partnership with the NFL, Gatorade and Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, more students will be protected with the best possible safety measures in place.”
The grant contest, which launched in October, is an extension of the partners’ athletic training outreach program. The partners have committed more than $3 million to help fund athletic trainers in communities nationwide. To date, the outreach program has impacted an estimated 160,000 student athletes across more than 670 schools.
“We understand the importance of secondary school athletic trainers and believe partnerships like this one are key to ensuring youth athlete safety,” said Jeff Kearney, head of Gatorade Sports Marketing. “This program has brought us one step closer to the ultimate goal of having a full-time athletic trainer in every high school in the country, and we are proud to have worked with the NFL, NATA and PFATS on this important initiative.”
“The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society is pleased to be a part of this important initiative,” said Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, PFATS president and head athletic trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs. “Athletic trainers play a critical role in the overall safety of all athletes, and the students at these winning schools will receive the medical services they so deserve.”
A lack of resources is at the heart of a disproportionate impact that concussions are having on school districts largely populated by African-American students, according to some experts in the field.
Basing their opinion on a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed a dramatic increase in the number of visits to the emergency room, the experts theorized that the aforementioned school districts can’t afford concussion monitoring tools.
Dr. Vernon Williams, neurologist and medical director of the Sports Concussion Institute, noted in an article that appeared in the New Pittsburgh Courier that the ImPACT Concussion Management program, for example, costs a minimum of $400 per year for 100 baseline tests and 15 post-injury tests for one school, an expensive proposition for some school districts.
“We have coaches who understand the need, but they have different resources. For example, we know baseline testing for people in contact collision sports can help evaluate when people get injured,” Williams said. “But it’s uncommon for people to have access to state-of-the-art baseline testing. Players, school systems, and parents don’t have access to those funds. But we can still implement treatment using creative measures.”
Dr. Gary Harris, associate provost for Research and Graduate Studies at Howard University, is reportedly working with engineering students and the Bison football team to devise an inexpensive concussion monitoring system, using an open source platform. This might provide a more cost-effective solution for such districts
The article can be viewed at http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2014/07/08/concussions-a-greater-problem-for-black-youth/
The Valdosta State athletic department revealed recently that it has spent more than $10,000 on at least 20 additional Riddell and Schutt football helmets in its continuing bid to enhance the safety of student athletes.
VSU athletic director Herb Reinhard told the media that “what we do at Valdosta State and what you see across college football is that schools are looking at their equipment—making sure they’ve got the most up-to-date equipment.”
Reinhard added that the introduction of safer helmets is part of an ongoing campaign.
“We’ve added about 80 helmets over the last two years,” Reinhard said. “We’ve been able to put more helmets into our inventory to cycle out older or simply adequate helmets.”
VSU Director of Sports Medicine Russ Hoff said the school uses the rating system developed by Virginia Tech in selecting helmets.
“We looked at helmets that were rated highly on Virginia Tech’s star-rating system,” he said. “We got more than one vendor because helmets fit people differently. We’ve diversified our inventory by manufacturer but we still utilize the star-rating system to choose what are considered higher-quality helmets.”