New Tools, Studies Further Concussion Discussion

With the high school and college football seasons well under way, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) and National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation (NAN) have joined forces to educate athletes, coaches, parents, health professionals, administrators and the general public about concussions in football. The objective is to raise awareness of the importance of identifying concussions and implementing appropriate management tools when they occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.6 million and 3.8 million brain injuries occur in sports each year - and 63,000 occur in high school student-athletes alone. Last month, the journal Pediatrics reported that emergency room visits for concussions among young athletes playing team sports more than doubled over a 10-year period, and 40 percent of those injuries are sustained by children ages 8 to 13.

As a centerpiece of the NATA and NAN efforts, a free 12-minute educational video titled "Concussions in Football: Signs, Symptoms and Playing Safe" can now be viewed here. Funded in part by the National Football League, it is similar to the concussions in hockey video the organizations produced last year and joins other recent educational offerings available from the National Federation of State High School Associations and the CDC (one for high school sports and one for youth sports). "Given the recent advancements in concussion research, education among coaches, parents, athletes, the media, and other influencers is critical," says athletic trainer Kevin Guskiewicz, chair of the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "The invisible nature of concussions makes it imperative that athletes and coaches properly recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions, in order to foster quicker diagnosis and medical care when needed."

Guskiewicz joined other medical professionals, federal legislators and a 15-year-old concussion victim Thursday for a congressional briefing on proposed legislation to reduce the number of young athletes who suffer the consequences of sports-related traumatic brain injuries - including the proposed Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act.

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