Tag Archives: youth
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has received a $3.8 million, five-year grant from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, to continue studying the effects of head impacts in youth league football.
“While there has been increasing interest in football head injuries at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, little data is available for children who play in youth leagues,” said Joseph Maldjian, M.D., professor of radiology at Wake Forest Baptist and principal investigator of the study. “Our goal is to help make youth football a safer activity for millions of children by having a better understanding of how repeated hits to the head affect a child’s brain.”
The Imaging Telemetry and Kinematic Modeling in Youth Football (iTAKL) study will use a three-pronged approach employing imaging, cognitive testing and biomechanical data to increase understanding of pediatric mild traumatic brain injury.
This project builds on recent research conducted at Wake Forest Baptist and integrates neuroinformatics work and computational modeling techniques developed by Maldjian and Joel Stitzel, Ph.D., chair of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist and co-principal investigator of the NINDS-funded study.
Maldjian said the study is expected to enroll 100 to 130 children ages 8 to 12 who play organized football in the Winston-Salem area. Sensors placed inside players’ helmets will measure head impacts during all practices and games throughout a full season.
Study participants will undergo pre- and post-season cognitive testing and imaging with MRI and magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive technique that maps brain activity by measuring the magnetic fields generated by the brain’s neurons. If a player experiences a clinical concussion during the season, the same testing and imaging will be conducted as soon as possible after the diagnosis, Maldjian said.
The Wake Forest Baptist researchers have partnered with Gerard Gioia, Ph.D., division chief of neuropsychology at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., for analysis of the cognitive data.
The research team hopes that the long-term benefit of the iTAKL study will be objective data that will help equipment designers, researchers and clinicians better prevent, mitigate, identify and treat head injuries.
Partial support for the initial study, which collected data from 50 youth league players during the 2012 season, was provided by the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma.
The NFL has announced that more than 140 former NFL players will serve as Master Trainers and Ambassadors to teach and reinforce USA Football’s Heads Up Football program to youth leagues and high schools nationwide during the 2014 season.
Elaborating on that point, the league noted that of USA Football’s 78 Master Trainers, 17 played in the NFL, “bringing knowledge and insight gained from competing at the sport’s highest level. Master Trainers lead full-day instructional sessions for high school and youth programs nationwide, teaching Heads Up Football’s curriculum to high school- and youth league-appointed Player Safety Coaches.”
The NFL also noted that another 127 former NFL players serve as Heads Up Football Ambassadors, “visiting practices and games of teams that participate within the program. Ambassadors strengthen awareness and reinforce Heads Up Football’s messages and standards.”
To Master Trainer Ruben Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection at guard for the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears (1995-2007), the responsibility seems personal.
“I’m a father – nothing is more important to me than the health of our kids,” he said. “Heads Up Football is changing for the better how coaches are prepared, players are taught and safety is addressed, and it’s exciting to see so many other former players share this commitment.”
Add Brandi Chastain, a member of the United States National Soccer Team from 1988-2004, to a growing collection of voices who believe headers should at least be discouraged in youth soccer.
Chastain was interviewed by a Website called Only a Game when she was asked about the topic.
“Well, having grown up in soccer and having done a lot of heading in my career, I’m now working with the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics at Santa Clara University and the Sports Legacy Institute in Boston, and I’ve come to realize that heading the ball as a youngster is not really something that we should encourage.
“The repetitiveness of heading can potentially cause some injury. Heading is something that an older, more mature player can physically handle and doesn’t need to be taught when our kids are under 14.”
The full article, including her insight on how to handle heading with high-level players, who may fall behind, can be found here: