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Concussion Report: Pop Warner’s Program, a New Book and a Huge Lawsuit

14 Nov, 2018

By: Michael Popke

Pop Warner, the country’s oldest and most prominent youth football organization, recently introduced CrashCourse — a video-based interactive learning tool for approximately 325,000 youth football players, as well as cheer and dance participants.

CrashCourse was developed by software creator TeachAids in collaboration with Stanford University researchers, and it includes an interactive film that features Stanford football players. “This film brings you directly onto the field during a high school football game and shares the latest medical knowledge on the prevention and treatment of concussions,’ according to the TeachAids website. “All materials were designed in partnership with leading subject matter experts and were developed using a rigorous research-based design process, which was conducted through Stanford University and formally approved by their Institutional Review Board.”

Additionally, a symptoms simulator is designed to help young people recognize the signs of a concussion in themselves or in others.

“This really focuses on a kid’s perspective,” Pop Warner executive director Jon Butler told USA Today. “If you get dinged, tell somebody. If you see one of your teammates or (cheer) squad mates acting funny, tell somebody. … You are not ratting a kid out, is what it comes down to. You are helping the kid and helping the team.”

Additionally, Julian Bailes, founder of The Brain Injury Research Institute, said in a statement that while many concussion-awareness materials are available for parents, coaches and medical professionals, very little research-based education is presented to young people. “If we are going to change the culture of sports, we need to educate our young athletes,” Bailes said.

Pop Warner officials say it is the first youth sports organization to provide CrashCourse concussion education nationwide.

In other concussion-related news:

  • The authors of a new book, Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football, contend in a Yahoo! Sports op-ed column that a highly publicized 2017 examination of the brains of 111 former NFL players“was so badly flawed that it was nearly worthless. ”The study concluded that 110 of the 111 brains showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — a progressive, degenerative disease similar to Alzheimer’s that is caused by repeated blows to the head. In the op-ed, former NFL running back Merril Hoge and Boston University School of Medicine assistant professor Peter Cummings claim the study doesn’t hold up because it had no control group; featured the brains of many players who displayed symptoms of mood, cognitive or behavioral disorders; and didn’t make any attempt to control for or account for all the other factors in the lives of the deceased players that could have contributed to the condition of their brains. “Let’s get good data from multiple sources and assess it based on diagnostic criteria created by the consensus of experts from multiple disciplines and multiple sources — rather than the criteria we use now, which were predominantly influenced by one source: Boston University,” they conclude. “Let’s do science the way science is supposed to be done, and then act on that information, rather than on fear.”

  • A Pennsylvania man diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association, claiming that college football contributed to his condition. Joel Jarosz, an offensive lineman for Slippery Rock University from 1976-78, sustained repeated blows to the head during practices and in games, according to the lawsuit, filed in Westmoreland County.“The NCAA failed to educate Mr. Jarosz about the long-term, life-altering risks and consequences of head injuries that can result from participation in the game of football, despite its knowledge of those risks,” the lawsuit states, adding that Jarosz experienced numbness, twitching, muscle atrophy, fatigue, loss of mobility, slurred speech and other neurological symptoms. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, in 2012. Jarosz’s attorney, Jason Luckasevic, also was the lawyer who filed the first lawsuits against the National Football League on behalf of former players who claimed repeated concussions sustained on the playing field resulted in irreversible brain damage, according to TribLive.com.

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