With Alex Smith suffering a well-documented concussion in last week’s game against the St. Louis Rams, the National Football League’s health and safety emphasis comes into focus with each step of the quarterback’s rehabilitation process.
As an organization, San Francisco has made the well-being of its players a priority as evidenced by 49ers Co-Chairman Dr. John York, the Chairman of the NFL Owners Committee on Health and Safety, and 49ers Medical Director Dr. Dan Garza recently taking part in the International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Zurich earlier this month.
It’s worth noting the NFL’s current sideline concussion protocol uses many components of the sideline tool developed at the Zurich conference held in 2008.
In addition to the 49ers representation, members of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee took part in the fourth ever concussion conference. The event hosted by FIFA, saw medical experts and sports leagues from around the world come together to discuss head injuries.
Specifically, the panel went into detail on the sideline assessment of concussions, as well as concussion diagnosis and return to play.
The conference also included a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Herring and Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The conversation touched on whether or not youth athletes should participate in contact sports, like soccer or football, before a certain age.
The panel agreed on these points:
-Teach youth athletes the proper techniques and fundamentals of their respective sports;
-Teach coaches, parents and youth athletes effective concussion recognition and response;
-Reduce and limit unnecessary contact in youth sports;
-Maximize rule enforcement of unsafe player behavior that puts the head at risk for injury;
-Make no alterations at present to specific ages already put forth by sports organizations for youth athletes to begin practicing skills such as heading in soccer, tackling in football, and body checking in ice hockey; and
-Continue research to learn the types and magnitudes of head forces for specific ages and sports to better understand the threshold of concussion.
“The Zurich panelists agreed that sports have made advancements in youth athlete player safety and that more work needs to be done,” said Dr. Herring, who also serves on USA Football’s Football and Wellness Committee. “In football, it is essential to introduce proper tackling techniques early in a player’s career and to avoid unnecessary head contact.”
Select experts who attended this year’s conference will form a panel to draft a consensus statement on concussion in sports.
York attended the conference with 49ers medical director Dr. Dan Garza, who also serves as Stanford’s team physician and as an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery in the school of medicine.
Stanford has also recently been praised for being a leader in researching the impact of football concussions.
Tags: Alex Smith, John York
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