Concussions have been a hot button topic in the youth sports community for quite some time.
Parents are conflicted with allowing their child to play football because of the possibility of concussions.
While there’s no way as of yet to totally eliminate concussions, Eastside Crusaders Junior Football in Sammamish, WA is one of the most dedicated programs in the nation proactively searching for solutions.
The Crusaders created the EC-Concussion Awareness Prevention Program which consists of four key tenets: better equipment, rules and policies, coaching and techniques, and education and awareness.
The Crusaders promote safer play by limiting contact and reducing or eliminating dangerous drills in practice, advocating for strict enforcement of head first contact and promoting education to referees to penalize dangerous play.
In regards to equipment, the Crusaders provide the best available equipment, have equipment fitting protocol, mouthguard standards and weekly equipment inspections.
The Crusaders also require coaches to attend a mandatory training session about youth safety as well as teaching kids a heads up tackling progression.
Youth1 spoke with Rob Laris, the Player Safety Director for the Eastside Crusaders, to get insight on the organization’s approach towards concussions.
For more information, visit http://www.eastsidejuniorfootball.org/safety.
How the Crusaders organization been at the forefront in the fight against concussions:
“We’ve gotten involved a couple of years ago with Dr. Stanley Herring [Father of the Lystedt Law which states that any athlete suspected of having suffered a concussion must be immediately removed from the game or practice and is barred from returning until receiving medical clearance from a licensed health-care professional]. and Dr. Fred Rivara, two of the leading doctors for head trauma in the nation. The study is with Children’s Hospital of Seattle and UW Medicine. The results will be published nationally and is believed to be the first of its kind. The study was basically to get a baseline of all the kids in our program and if they got a concussion they would track their treatment and return to play all the way until they got better.
“We’re also in a second new study about concussion prevention that they’re getting a big grant for. This will be most fascinating for us because we’ve been very passionate about it to see any medical angles about ways to prevent concussions in our youth.”
On the goal of EC-CAPP:
“Nobody was talking about how do we prevent concussions from happening in the first place. So they have laws that tell you what to do now post-concussion or when you suspect a concussion but how do you prevent concussions from happening? What can you do to prevent them in the first place? That is what EC-CAPP is centered around. We don’t know if we can prevent them but let’s try everything we can to do that.”
On the reasoning for the players pledge for concussions:
“A lot of the times these kids think their brains are tough. They think that they shouldn’t tell anybody that they’ve had something happen on the field. So a lot of the times the other kids are the first to know when somebody’s had a concussion. It’s a pledge to let the coaches know if something is wrong with one of their teammates.”
How the league has recently taken additional measures to enhance safety:
“We now have certified athletic trainers at every game in our league and is available to anybody that gets head trauma or any other injury. That’s been a huge step.”
The dire impact of equipment fitting:
“The quality of equipment is important but it’s much more important for it to fit right. One of the things we found is that coaches will fit a helmet at the beginning of the year but they won’t re-fit it during the season. But we re-fit every week. There’s been some studies that show that a properly fitted helmet makes you much less likely to have a concussion. That’s just one simple thing that can have a nice effect.”
Safety methods in practices:
“Limited distance for contact, eliminating certain drills that can cause concussions. We find in youth football there’s a lot of drills and tackling at distance that causes concussions before the kids are ready to do that. It’s been shown that we can still be very competitive without a lot of contact by doing it on air and on bags with different types of dummies.”
The main goal is loud and clear:
“It all comes out of a passion for these kids and to make sure they’re as safe as possible. Player safety is our No.1 thing. It’s what we want our league to be about.”
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