CHICAGO, Aug. 14 (UPI) — A U.S. doctor says serious neurological injuries can be prevented in football players if they, their parents and coaches take injury prevention seriously.
Dr. Mitchel Berger — a member of the National Football League Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee and vice president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons — says football is a collision sport with inevitable risks but most serious neurological injuries can be prevented.
“Football players who have sustained a concussion need to be withheld from play until all physical and neuropsychological symptoms and signs related to that concussion have resolved and they are cleared to return to play through an independent healthcare professional,” Berger says in a statement.
Berger and colleagues point out data show football helmets are not the cause of cervical spine injuries. They say poorly executed tackling and blocking techniques are the major problems.
Injuries can be prevented if all players receive:
– Pre-season physical exams, and those with a history of prior brain or spinal injuries, including concussions, need to be identified.
– Adequate preconditioning and strengthening of the head and neck muscles.
– Instruction not to use the top of the football helmet as a battering ram when blocking, hitting, tackling and ball carrying. Coaches should stress helmet-to-helmet collisions are to be avoided.
– Properly fitted players’ equipment, especially the helmet. Straps should always be locked.
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