Sunday, January 30, 2011

NFL publishes a poster for youth athletic locker rooms

The NFL has rleleased a poster for locker rooms of youth athletics programs.  It can be found here: The poster reflects the same information that was hung in every NFL locker room to bring attention to all of their athletes the issue of TBIs.  (As if a poster in each locker room really does much more than all of the information and attention that was paid to it this past season in the media.)  While I applaud the NFL for their efforts, I think it still comes up very short of what is needed.  I realize the problems with requiring players to speak at functions to help address the issue, but I think that this will be the best way to tackle the issue (yes, the pun is very much intended.) I believe that part of the contracts of each player should be to speak to this and other medical issues like steroid abuse to youth gatherings would have a much greater impact on the youth than any poster could ever hope to achieve.

Also, the Sports Legacy Institute has posted seven steps to increase the safety and decrease the risk of TBI in athletics.  These steps have bee nthe hallmark of what we as a staff have been trying to accomplish, but we never took the time to write these steps down and state them clearly.
As a staff, we quickly worked to address the education to our high school/middle school parents, coaches, and athletes.  Most of what we have presented has been quickly accepted by all the parties involved and we have had little arguements about the standards.  Fortunately, our employer is also anxious for us to reach out even further into the various youth leagues that provide programming for our younger populations.  It is very exciting to be able to reach everyone in a community and spread the word quicker. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Outdated helmets identified as a potential problem in NFL with TBIs

A fellow blogger, Dustin Fink ATC, has identified a potential problem in the NFL with the use of outdated helmets leading to an increased risk of TBIs.  His findings are published on his blog, where he used video to identify the kind of helmet worn by NFL athletes that received TBIs. His findings were that 45% of the TBIs in the NFL were sustained by athletes wearing outdated helmets.  This is staggering considering the amount of emphasis that was place on updating helmet technologies and making sure that youth football players had the latest helmets this past season.
Image credit: ©

TBI Detection Device

In an encouraging development, an all-star high school football game tested a new product that can help detect TBIs The device, which is a part of the chinstrap, has an LED that changes color based on the severity of a hit received. While it does not diagnose TBIs, it certainly gives the ATs and physicians on the the sidelines a little more feedback about how hard a hit may have been. The problem here is when the light changes color and there are no symptoms of TBI demonstrated by the athlete. Will there be a perception that the AT and/or physician is being negligent or incompetent in diagnosing a TBI? I would hate to see lawsuits popping up because somebody feels that a light is the absolute determining factor in making a RTP decision. The video does state (and the manufacturer does reiterate) the chinstrap is not a golden bullet for determining the need to sit an athlete. Unfortunately, when working in a litigious society and a highly competitive game like football, the meaning of the little yellow/blue/red LED can be quickly distorted to serve nefarious purposes.

Further complicating this device is that it can become a goal of the opponents to try and change the color of the LED by hitting harder. After a recent experience with my linemen playing a side game during football by keeping score of the number of "packages" they could grab from the bottom of piles, I wouldn't put it past my players to come up with this goofy idea too.

One more idea just struck me. These detectors would also need to have some sort of reset switch on them that could only be activated by the ATC or the team physician. If an athlete sustains a powerful hit that they saw coming and was able to brace for, the hit may still register as a potential TBI by changing the LED color. However, the medical personnel may see no reason to hold an athlete because of a lack of symptoms. This would require the LED to be reset so as not to alarm anyone. However, the system would require a key or a fob of some sort to allow only the ATC or physician to reset it. It would serve no purpose to allow the athlete to be able to reset it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In Memorium

It is with a heavy heart that I extend my condolences to the family of Daniel Gorman ATC, director of athletic training at Mount Union.  The horrible crash involving the bus and a snow plow during a snowy evening last Tuesday night should give everyone a reason to go home and kiss their families while they can.