A few days after Wisconsin decided to limit contact time during practice for youth football, California passed a law as well.
As per the new law that was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, contact during practice would be limited to thirty minutes per day for two days a week for youth athletes playing football. The idea behind this is to minimize head injuries on the field.
However, when ABC10 spoke with neuropsychologist Dr. David Spangler about this new law, he seemed to question the outcome during game time v/s practice. In his opinion, prevention is not all about limiting contact or the sport as a whole but is also about identifying a concussion and its subtle signs and symptoms in the event one does occur.
According to Spangler, there is not much literature out there due to poor research being done in the area where youth athletes under 12 years of age are concerned and hence, he seems to be unsure of the outcome.
In his opinion, at this point with all the media frenzy about suicides and CTE, moving away from the fear of concussion and educating yourselves seems be the right move.
Dr. Spangler also gives the example of shift in culture for preventing and reducing head injuries amongst bikers in the recent times. Biking, is one of the biggest risk factors for concussion. When asked if there was any sport that was safe for youth to play, he believes every sport comes with its own risk factors. However, in a sport like biking, a way to prevent a concussion would be to wear protective gear and we do see nowadays that a lot of youth, kids and adults are wearing helmets, thus explaining the cultural shift.
In my opinion, since, there is no study done yet to prove whether or not reducing the duration of practice or contact time will limit the frequency of concussion, we still have to start somewhere. We can start by educating ourselves, spreading awareness and advocate for the safety of our kids by ensuring
These are to name a few:
- The right protective gears are being used.
- Players are being thoroughly assessed by professionals in case of a head injury.
- Players are made to follow the appropriate return to play protocol based on the severity of symptoms.
- Aggressive players are asked to sit out after a certain number of fair chances.