We were recently contacted by the representative of the family of a young Pop Warner football player who became paralyzed after being struck on his helmet and suffering a spinal injury during a championship football game.
The life-changing injury took place when the 13 year old star running back was blocking for a teammate. After making contact with his helmet, he experienced a spinal cord injury and collapsed to the ground.
Although this head injury took place during a game, we find it interesting to note that Pop Warner has recently announced rule changes that will limit the amount of full-speed collisions and contact allowed in practice. If you’re a player or parent of a player, make sure your coach follows these rules whether he or she likes it or not!
Starting in August, contact will not be allowed for two-thirds of each practice — a move prompted by research showing that most of the hardest hits in youth football occur not in games, but in practice. The organization is also forbidding all drills that involve full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling that begins with players lined up more than three yards apart, as well as head-to-head contact.
We think families of football players should also be aware of a stream of studies which have linked collisions on the field to long-term cognitive problems. Several former college and professional players have been posthumously found to have a brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s that experts believe were caused by repeated head trauma.
Recently, more than 2,000 former N.F.L. players have filed suit against the league and the helmet manufacturer Riddell, alleging that they deliberately hid critical information about the dangers of concussions and hits to the head. The lawsuits have been recently consolidated into one master complaint.
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