Understanding Concussions Leads To Football Safety - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Understanding Concussions Leads To Football Safety

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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The game of football could be forced to evolve if it is to survive.
A national poll found 40-percent of people surveyed say they wouldn't allow their children to play football. Injuries, especially concussions, are a major concern for parents.
This is an issue running from the NFL stadiums all the way down to the pee wee Pop Warner fields.

But there's a new style of play gaining popularity called "Heads Up Football," a technique designed to help prevent injuries.

The "Heads Up" technique is a program meant to keep them healthy on the field.

"Safety is very important to me," said Angela Miller, parent, who signed her seven-year-old son Derrick up for the camp. She wants him to learn the fundamentals from two retired NFL coaches.

"These guys have taken the time to come out to teach them the proper way," Miller said. "You know how to make the contact."

The camp is teaching "Heads Up Football," a technique gaining in popularity around the country.
Players learn to hit with their chest first, their head to the side. It's meant to prevent injuries, especially concussions.

"It is all designed to teach people how to play a safer brand of football without changing the essence of the game," sad Bill Muir, who spent five decades coaching at the college and pro level.

Muir, who is running the camp, retired two years ago as the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. He says the "Heads Up" movement is important for the game.

"It has to evolve and I think that the evolution is taking place," Muir said. "I think it can be everything it has been, all right, but I think there's a safer way to play it."

The organization USA Football runs the "Heads Up" program, which is supported by the NFL. USA Football offers resources for coaches and parents, teaching them about recognizing and avoiding injuries, properly fitting equipment, hydrating, and avoiding heat stroke.

But when it comes down to the X's and O's this is still a full contact game with blocking and tackling.
"What we're trying to do is have a safer way to block and tackle, educate people that the head is not a contact point. The helmet is not a weapon," Muir said.

"It's not the answer, it's just a tool," added Dr. James "Trey" Eubanks III, Director of Trauma Services at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. "So it's one tool in the toolbox to help decrease the injuries that we're seeing in these kids."

Dr. Eubanks says part of the problem with concussions is football's obsession with the big hits.

"You have to recognize what the problem is and the problem isn't necessarily football but it's the way it's being played," Dr. Eubanks said. "It's the fact that in the past we've ignored to some degree or not understood really what the long term complications of these injuries are."

"What's the biggest thing in blocking?," Muir said. "Keep your what?"

"Heads up!"

"Keep your what?," Muir said.

"Heads up!"

"Keep your what?," Muir said again.

"Heads up!"

"Here we go! Here we go!"

At camp the coaches drill the message and the techniques over and over. Coach Muir's daughter organized the camp. His grandson will start contact football this fall. After 47 years of coaching he wants the next generation to play the game.

"I've over and over and over again seen the benefits of the game and I look at my grandson and I want the game to be there as I know it, for him, all right," Muir said. "So he has the same opportunities that I've had and hopefully for his son."

Another tool in Tennessee, there's a new concussion law. Dr. Eubanks and his colleagues at Le Bonheur lobbied for the new rules. Youth sports players with suspected concussions are required to leave the game and get checked out by a doctor.

It also mandates concussion training for coaches and parents. USA Football provides that type of training with the "Heads Up" program. Supporters would like this movement to spread through youth football leagues around the memphis area.

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