By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/14/10
A local trainer is promoting the use of a state-of-the-art testing procedure to help youth organization guard against the growing problem of sports concussions.
Recently, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) boys’ Lacrosse Rules Committee broadened the definition of an illegal body check in high school boys’ lacrosse.
This definition includes “initiating contact directly to an opponent’s head or initiating contact to an opponent’s body that then follows through to the head.”
To address the increasingly-discussed topic of sports concussions, Exton’s William Wardle, a Certified Athletic Trainer, is working with youth lacrosse programs and other youth sports organizations by providing education on concussions and by offering a preventative service used in pro hockey, football and baseball called computerized neurocognative testing.
Wardle, the Haverford School head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director, said athletic trainers and physicians recommend use computerized neurocognative to measure memory, reaction time, processing speed, and overall functioning.
A physician would compare the follow-up data to the baseline data; this information will help a doctor determine when it is safe to return to play.
An athlete can take a baseline test at the beginning of the season; this establishes a record of how your son or daughter’s brain is working in a healthy, normal state. If a concussion happens, your son or daughter takes a follow-up test.
“We need to educate the players about the dangers of leading with their heads to make a hit to an opponent, and also the dangers of going after another player’s head,” Wardle said, noting the procedure was developed by a group of neurologists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“To go along with that, coaches need to emphasize the proper technique for their sports, whether it’s football or lacrosse. The head was never meant to be a weapon – or a target.”
Wardle offers this testing as part of his business, Body Active, Inc., a health and safety services company. Body Active utilizes ImPACT® software, which is the same program used by the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, and hundreds of colleges and universities.
According to Kent Summers, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the boys’ Lacrosse Rules Committee, “Spearing – leading with the top of your head into another player – has been illegal for a number of years. Now, anytime a player initiates a check with his head or to his opponent’s head, it is a violation.”
Concussions are happening in all sports, at all levels, at alarming rates. The NFHS has also instructed referees (of all sports) any player who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.
Wardle noted that concussions have become the most discussed topic in contact sports – and for good reason.
“The NFL is beginning to crack down on these violations and imposing more harsh penalties for players who engage in these types of hits, so I think officials at all levels of football and lacrosse need to follow suit and set the tone that such hits are not a part of the game, and will not be tolerated.”
Sports medicine physicians and athletic trainers are among the “appropriate health-care professionals” considered by the rules makers.
To learn more about concussions, and how to utilize computerized neurocognative testing at Body Active, go to www.bodyactivefitness.com.