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NFL continues to emphasize players health and safety


As part of its focus on player health and safety, the NFL has made more rules changes, introduced enhanced sideline concussion
protocols and is continuing its commitment to education and advocacy on concussion prevention and treatment.

During the 2011 season, the league introduced two additional elements to NFL sideline concussion protocol.

Beginning in December, the NFL arranged for a certified athletic trainer to be present in the press box at each game to monitor
play of both teams and provide medical staffs with any relevant information that could assist them in determining the most
appropriate evaluation and treatment. In addition, club medical staffs are permitted to use their cell phones during games for
purposes of obtaining information relating to the care of an injured player.

The enhanced protocol was welcomed by team trainers.

“It’s all about player safety,” says Pittsburgh Steelers trainer JOHN NORWIG. “To have a trainer who is used to taking care of
players providing another set of eyes upstairs, I don’t have any problem with it.”

The move was also praised by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) for its impact on youth sports.

“Education and awareness is the key to creating change,” says MARJORIE ALBOHM, president of NATA. “The NFL’s concussion
policies have put a spotlight on this and other injuries. That has created tremendous awareness of the importance of proper injury care for athletes and the important role that athletic trainers play in that.”

Last January, teams were permitted to begin using sideline video monitors to assist team medical personnel in diagnosing and
treating injuries. The monitors are made available to team physicians and head athletic trainers to review footage of plays during which a player is injured or appears to be injured. There will be sideline monitors on all sidelines in 2012 for use by team medical staffs.

The video monitors were useful immediately to the New York Giants in last year’s playoffs. Vice President of Medical Services
RONNIE BARNES indicated that they helped diagnose two players who sustained concussions.

“The video replay provided us with evidence that a concussive event had occurred,” says Barnes. “The system worked as it
should have.”

The focus on player safety continued with rules changes proposed by the NFL Competition Committee and ratified by the 32 NFL teams this offseason. In May, owners voted to make thigh and knee pads mandatory for players beginning in the 2013 season.

“There’s no downside, they have to add some sort of protection,” says Atlanta Falcons President/CEO and Chairman of the NFL
Competition Committee RICH MC KAY. “In our football system, everyone wears them up to our game. Common sense tells you it
has to be safer for [protection against] thigh injuries and knee bruises. If players have worn it in Pop Warner, high school and
college, from a safety standpoint, it is time to put it back in.”

The impact of rule changes has been evident on the playing field. Data showed that moving the kickoff up five yards last season
helped reduce the number of concussions players sustained on kickoffs.

“The kickoff rule had an effect on the game,” says McKay. “There was a 40 percent reduction in concussions on that play.”

To ensure that young athletes are protected from head injury and treated appropriately when they are suspected of injury, NFL
representatives, including former players, have advocated for passage of the LYSTEDT LAW. The law is named for ZACKERY
LYSTEDT who, in 2006, suffered a brain injury following his return to a middle school football game after sustaining a concussion.

Zackery, his family and a broad range of medical, business and community partners lobbied the Washington state legislature for a law to protect young athletes in all sports from returning to play too soon after head injuries.

The Lystedt Law contains three essential elements:

• Athletes, parents and coaches must be educated about the dangers of concussions each year.

• If a young athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he/she must be removed from a game or practice and not be
permitted to return to play. When in doubt, sit them out.

• A licensed health care professional must clear the young athlete to return to play in the subsequent days or weeks.

As of July, 35 states and Washington, D.C. have adopted youth concussion laws while two states have passed legislation and are
awaiting respective governor’s signatures.

In June 2011, the NCAA announced that it was supporting the NFL in its advocacy efforts. In January 2012, NCAA Commissioner
MARK EMMERT and NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL joined together to write letters to the governors of states without a
youth sports concussion law. The NFL will continue its advocacy efforts in this matter until each state has passed a Lystedt Law.

“Once people know the potential consequences, it becomes an easy decision,” says VICTOR LYSTEDT, Zackery’s father, about
opting to remove players from the field after a hit to the head. “Most every parent and coach is going to make the right decision
because it can become a catastrophic event thereafter. That awareness became our job after Zack got injured.”

Reaching players at the youth level is a priority for the NFL when it comes to player health and safety. Working with the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USA Football, the sport’s governing body on youth and amateur levels, NFL teams
help youth and high school coaches learn the signs of head injury and understand the best methods of treatment and prevention.

Coaches are also educated on the subject during the NFL-USA Football Youth Football Summit, which takes place in Canton,
Ohio each year.

Teams are working to educate local youth league coaches, parents and athletes through health and safety forums. In the last
year, the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts have hosted forums in their communities,
bringing together medical experts from the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee and CDC with team trainers, physicians,
executives and players to discuss concussion prevention and treatment, helmet fit and NFL concussion protocol with interested
community members.

At the Chicago Bears health and safety forum, held in February, team chairman GEORGE H. MC CASKEY spoke with a group of
youth football coaches and players.

“There’s a warrior mentality, and this is exactly the reason we are here today,” said McCaskey, addressing the importance of
changing mindsets amongst professional and youth players.

“We, as players and coaches, need to change the culture of concussions,” added Bears long snapper PATRICK MANNELLY.
“This isn’t something where you play hurt. This is your life.”

In addition, this spring, the NFL joined a group of sports organizations, safety equipment manufacturers and a federal agency to
create a youth safety and helmet replacement program for underserved communities (see page 60). The program, which is
supported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), will replace youth league helmets that are 10 years or
older with updated equipment at no cost, and provide coaches with the latest educational health and safety materials.

The NFL, NFL Players Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Operating Committee on Standards for
Athletic Equipment have committed approximately $1 million to the program for its first year. USA Football will lead the execution of the initiative. The CDC, National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt and Xenith have also joined the partnership.

“I am pleased to see the NFL, USA Football and manufacturers working together to make sure our young football players are not
wearing 10-year-old helmets that no longer meet industry safety standards,” says Senator TOM UDALL (D-NM). “Increasing
awareness of equipment safety and sports concussion will help protect young players from injury.”

Recognizing their similar cultures and unique challenges, the NFL and the military are working together to share ideas on
concussion education for their respective populations.

“We have the same ethos,” says U.S. Army Chief of Staff GENERAL RAY ODIERNO. “Soldiers sometimes don’t want to admit
that they have brain injuries. It’s an invisible injury. And the NFL players are sometimes the same way, so we want to come up
with ways to communicate to them that it’s important that if they are having a problem that they come forward because it has longterm impacts.”

As such, current and former NFL players and coaches have joined with members of the military for a series of discussions on
changing attitudes on head injuries in the locker room and on the battlefield.

“It has to start with the kids,” says former running back BRIAN WESTBROOK. “Then they’ll get older and they’ll realize, ‘Hey, this
isn’t just part of the sport. It’s way more serious than that and it has to be treated the right way.’”

For more information, visit http://nflhealthandsafety.com.

Posted by Necesitamos Mas Football on 12:43. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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