National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation (NAN) Team Up to Raise Concussion Awareness
Campaign Aims to Reduce Concussions in Youth, High School and College Football
DALLAS, DENVER (September 16, 2010) – With the high school and college football seasons now underway, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation (NAN) have joined forces on a national and local grassroots campaign to educate the public, athletes, health professionals, coaches, parents, administrators and others about concussion in football. The overarching objective of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of identifying concussions and implementing appropriate management when they do occur so athletes can participate in sports safely.
Concussions are by far the most common, and one of the most difficult to manage injuries seen in sports today – and news of these injuries and the sometimes chronic and serious outcomes that follow – have been making headlines across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.6 million and 3.8 million brain injuries occur in sports each year – and 63,000 occur in high school athletes alone.
As a centerpiece of the NAN and NATA efforts, a 12-minute educational video titled “Concussions in Football: Signs, Symptoms and Playing Safe” has now been released nationally. The video, funded in part by the National Football League, is narrated by Steve Young and features comments from Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers and retired NFL player Trent Green. The video follows last year’s release of a similar educational DVD focusing on concussion safety in hockey. It is available as a free online download on affiliated websites, including www.nanonline.org and www.nata.org/health-issues/concussion.
“Given the recent advancements in concussion research, education among coaches, parents, athletes, the media, and other influencers is critical,” said athletic trainer Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC, Kenan distinguished professor and chair, department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “The invisible nature of concussions makes it imperative that athletes and coaches properly recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions, in order to foster quicker diagnosis and medical care when needed.”
“Sport-related concussions can be serious injuries if not treated properly. Concussion symptoms can affect players in all areas of their lives including their physical, emotional and cognitive functioning,” said Ruben Echemendia, PhD, NAN past president. “Swift and appropriate evaluation by trained sports medicine professionals is crucial before an athlete returns to play. That is why we counsel students and coaches to err on the side of caution and ‘when in doubt, sit out.’”
This educational campaign explicitly urges athletes to immediately consult with their athletic trainer, team physician or coach if they think they might have a concussion. “Even if an athlete’s symptoms appear to be very mild, if he doesn’t feel right, he must immediately tell somebody in charge,” Echemendia said. The video emphasizes current practice and return to play guidelines. Most importantly, if a concussion is suspected, the athlete should be removed from play immediately and not returned to play on the same day. Return to play should only occur when the athlete has been evaluated and written clearance has been provided by a health care profession trained in the evaluation and management of sports concussions.
For more information, NATA has published a position statement (pdf download) on concussions, available at http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/MgmtOfSportRelatedConcussion.pdf. NAN has also published a sports concussion white paper, available at http://www.nanonline.org/NAN/ResearchPublications/Educationpapers.aspx.
National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport: Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 32,000 members of the athletic training profession. NATA supports the Athletic Trainers’ Equal Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 1137). Visit www.nata.org
The National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) Foundation serves to support the goals of NAN through education and research. NAN is a professional association founded in 1975 to advance Neuropsychology as a science and health profession, to promote human welfare and to generate and disseminate knowledge of brain-behavior relationships. NAN has become a vibrant organization of the world’s leading scientist-practitioners, academics, clinicians and researchers in the field of brain functioning. The association’s current membership is over 3,500 with representation by 17 countries. Visit www.nanonline.org.
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