Lacrosse Due for Rule Changes that Protect Against Concussions

Is lacrosse actually trailing professional football when it comes to a proactive stance on making rule changes that protect participants from concussions?

That certainly appears to be the case.

Medstar Sports Medicine Research Center in Baltimore recently videotaped 518 boys’ lacrosse games at 25 public high schools in Fairfax County, Virginia during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. A total of 86 concussions were reportedly identified and treated by athletic trainers.

The findings – the majority of the concussions resulted from players using their head to initiate contact, many times on defenseless players – was alarming.

An article on the site Mom’s Team quoted the lead researcher, Andrew E. Lincoln, as saying that the findings “demonstrate that the struck player was unaware and unprepared for the impending impact in about half of the collisions resulting in concussions and captured on video. These ‘defenseless hits’ represent scenarios where the player’s full attention is focused on obtaining possession of the ball, and therefore, the player may be vulnerable to unanticipated contact from an opponent.”

But what may have been more alarming was the fact that “penalties were called in only 9 out of the 34 cases.”

In a concluding passage of the study, the authors wrote: “The absence of penalty calls on most of these plays suggests an area for exploration, such as the extent to which rules governing player to player contact are enforced and how effective these rules are for the prevention of head injury at various levels of the sport.”

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