LAYTON (ABC4 Utah News) – Utah high school officials were taking football concussion safety seriously even before a new Virginia Tech report on the risks of head injuries during tackling drills came out in the Journal of Neurosurgery.
Sophomores from Clearfield High School and Layton High knock helmets on a Thursday afternoon but their hitting in practice Monday through Wednesday is strictly limited, according to Ryan Bishop, the Football Director of the Utah High School Activities Association.
“The state of Utah was one of the first states in the nation a year and a half ago to pass some recommendations for practice contact limits,” Bishop told ABC4 Utah News. “We are currently in our second full season of those practice contact limits.”
The UHSAA also has a concussion protocol in place. Layton High Athletic Trainer Jami Taylor says it kicks in as soon as she notices the first signs of possible head injury.
“You can usually talk to them a few minutes and start to know that hey you know what they’re just a little bit off,” Taylor said Thursday. “At that point we definitely go into all of our concussion testing so we’re testing balance. We’re testing memory. We’re testing to see their cognitive recall, if they can remember what’s going on. Just simple things even. Can they remember the play? Can they remember where we’re at? Do they know what day it is?”
A player in any sport who is diagnosed with concussion-type symptoms can not return to the field until they’re cleared by a doctor.
Football is not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport so it will never be 100 percent safe but administrators, coaches and trainers say they are doing everything they can to protect the players.
“Risk minimization and player safety is the number one priority,” Bishop said. “Because the game of football is huge and we hope it’s not going away but as we push for it not to go away we need to make sure we’re keeping it safe.”
For more information on the UHSAA Concussion Management Policy, go to http://www.uhsaa.org/sportsmedicine/