Safety & Security

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Judge: Deaths Can’t be Proven to be Related to Head Trauma from Pop Warner Football

1 Feb, 2020

By: Michael Popke

In late December, a judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a lawsuit against Pop Warner Little Scholars that observers believed once had the potential to “change the game forever.”

But, as The New York Times reported, mothers Kimberly Archie and Jo Cornell “failed to prove that their sons’ deaths were directly linked to head trauma sustained a decade earlier as young players.”

Both women claimed their sons, who played Pop Warner football in the 1990s and early 2000s, died as adults in their mid-20s — one in a motorcycle accident and one as the result of suicide — because they suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). SI.com presented a thorough dissection of the case when it was first filed in 2016.

Judge Philip S. Gutierrez “said that the mothers did not show sufficient links between the head trauma their sons may have suffered while playing Pop Warner football and their behavior later in life,” according to The Times. “He also said that they had discounted other contributing factors, including the football that their sons played in high school and ‘social and biological factors.’”

At least one of the mothers has said she plans to appeal the decision.

• Forget about fake Rolexes and football jerseys made in China, says National Public Radio. One of the biggest threats coming out of the counterfeiting trade is cheap bike helmets that parents are buying kids on the Internet, in order to get around what they see as exorbitant prices charged by bicycle shops. Unfortunately, notes NPR, what they’re getting is something that looks like a good helmet – but lacks the safety features. Case in point: a helmet that splits in half when tested. Specialized, one of the leading manufacturers of helmets, says it is fighting back. Andrew Love leads a team of 14 at Specialized who monitor 85 e-commerce websites around the world. Hunched over his laptop computer, Love says, "Right now, in the helmet category on eBay — selling directly from China to the United States — 34,582 listings." And none of those, the article points out, can do the job of protecting kids from concussion – or worse injuries.

• New research from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTH) suggests that high school students with a history of sports-related concussions might be at greater risk for suicide — the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 — than their non-concussed peers. Researchers examined the link between self-reported history of concussion and risk factors associated with suicide, and for the first time included a nationally representative sample of high school students. According to UTH, “of the portion of students who reported a history of concussions, approximately 36 percent reported they had felt sad or hopeless (compared to 31.1 percent of all teens) and around 21 percent had thoughts of suicide (compared to 17 percent). Male participants with a reported concussion in the last year were twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and three times more likely to report a history of receiving medical treatment for an attempted suicide than those who did not have a recent concussion.”

• The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has published the first data validating the widespread assumption that youth football players are more vulnerable to concussions and other head injuries than older, bigger players. The research, funded by a five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrated that head accelerations leading to concussions in youth football players are lower than those that typically generate concussions in high school, college and professional football players. The lab’s director said the data will be critical to the future design and testing of protective equipment.

• A recent study found that many high schools around the country reported challenges implementing and enforcing the three main parts of state concussion laws. Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy in the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said that athletic trainers claim concussion education materials often use complex medical terms, do not require active learning and often are not available in needed languages. Athletic trainers also noted a lack of buy-in to state law requirements from both coaches and parents, who may not understand the potential severity of concussions, which, in turn, made scheduling a time for training and full compliance with school concussion policies challenging. “Our hope is that school administrators, athletic directors, and athletic trainers can use these findings to identify implementation barriers in their own schools,” said Ginger Yang, senior author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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