Coaches training athletes to prevent concussions

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Hundreds of kids are heading back to school, and many are getting ready to start playing sports.

A new program is trying to help cut back on the number of head injuries younger players have, by changing the way coaches teach players to tackle.

Kevin Brown, the head football coach at Piper Middle School in Kansas, is also a master trainer for "Heads-Up Football," which was developed by USA Football.

He is one of more than 83,000 coaches across the county who has signed up to teach the new concepts to youth football programs across the country.

Coaches are training athletes to tackle with their heads up, hence the name, to try and cut back on the injuries that can arise from contact sports like football.

"We're going to teach them violently and quickly to open their hips so we can bring their head up and out of the tackle," Brown said.

Randall Goldstein is a sports medicine specialist at the University of Kansas Hospital. He says other sports, including those for girls, can be just as dangerous as football.

"A concussion can happen with an impact, but it can also happen with a rotation or a whiplash injury where there is no head impact," Goldstein said. "Any symptom, including a headache or dizziness or light sensitivity, should be considered a questionable concussion."

He recommends a baseline test, which measures basic skills that doctors can use to help know when an athlete is operating at 100 percent again.

Jay Arends took Goldstein's recommended baseline test.

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal, so I kept playing," Arends said.

He is recovering from a basketball concussion.

His mother says they have learned that these things can't be taken lightly.

"It's surprising how quickly that one event suddenly changes everything," she said.

Now the National Federation of State High Schools is thinking about adopting the same training policies.

To learn more about how to get your child a baseline test, call the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Kansas Hospital, 913-588-1227.

Concussion myths and facts can also be found on the University of Kansas Hospital's website: http://bit.ly/17oNADw

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