Over the past several years the worlds of professional, collegiate and youth football have all come under scrutiny because of concern over the high incidence of severe brain injuries in football players. Some states have responded by passing laws to require more oversight of youth practices and safety, while the NFL has faced a number of workers' compensation lawsuits by injured players.
Now the National Collegiate Athletic Association is stepping up their role in the fight against traumatic brain injury. The NCAA has made several changes to its rules that representatives hope will decrease the number of brain injuries sustained by collegiate players and lead the way for safety in all football organizations.
For example, under new rules players are ejected from play if they make contact with a defenseless opposing player above the shoulders. Most traumatic brain injuries come as a result of a blow or jolt to the head so the organization hopes that this rule will cause players to be more careful.
In January the association hired its first Chief Medical Officer, a neurologist. The NCAA has seen rule changes be effective in the past, including a change to the kickoff rule that yielded an impressive 50 percent decrease in concussions.
However, there are still risks for collegiate players. Any contact sport is bound to involve some bumps and bruises but it is the responsibility of organizations like the NCAA, as well as coaches and schools, to ensure that young players are safe.
In our next post we'll talk about the basics of traumatic brain injuries, including symptoms, risks and what to do if you believe you or a loved one may have sustained one.
Source: utsandiego.com, "NCAA works to prevent brain injuries," Stefanie Loh, April 28, 2013