Information collected by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research shows that more high school football players suffered catastrophic brain injuries in 2011 than at any time since the center began to compile data.
The center, which started to accumulate brain injury data in 1984, is located at the University of North Carolina.
In 2011, 13 players had catastrophic head injuries even though there has been a widespread effort to educate coaches and change the rules.
Bob Colgate of the National Federation of State High School Associations said that injuries are being reported today that might not have been reported in the past.
"But we also have a responsibility to keep emphasizing that the head has to be taken out of tackling and blocking," Colgate said.
Coaches are taught to watch their players for inappropriate blocks and tackles where players lead with their heads.
"This is a major problem," according to Dr. Fred Mueller, the primary author of the center’s report. Mueller is director of the center. He also is professor emeritus of exercise and sports science in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The head must not be used as the first point of contact during blocking and tackling, Mueller emphasized. Although the rules were changed in 1976, making it illegal to lead with the head in blocking and tackling, Mueller said he thinks the rules need to be enforced more stringently by officials, and coaches must teach this information to their players.
Six high school players who did not properly tackle and block suffered injuries to the cervical cord and did not completely recover.
The North Carolina state legislature passed a law in 2011 that requires players in high school and middle school to be taken off the field if they are suspected of having a brain injury, and they are not allowed to return to play until a medical professional approves.
The center has been gathering and publishing information on catastrophic football injuries for 48 years. It began to accumulate data on brain injuries in 1984. Catastrophic injuries are defined in the report as injuries that harm the brain or spinal cord, or cause a skull fracture or fracture of the spine that result in some disability when the injury occurs.
Source: Education Week
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