Tag Archives: head injuries

Head Injuries and Concussions

Head injuries and concussions have caught the national spotlight. The NFL, NCAA, and NHL have been proactively and aggressively taking steps to prevent head injuries and maybe most importantly, to make sure athletes don’t go back too soon. This is not only a major topic and challenge in professional and college sports, but in high schools, too.

The reality is that school districts don’t have the money to commit to sweeping changes. It’s very sad as it turns out our most vulnerable are at most risk. At North Kitsap School District, the bar has been raised by Chris Franklin. Franklin has been the head athletic trainer at North Kitsap HS for 17 years. He is the guru of making sure kids at North Kitsap stay safe. The work he and his team have done with baseline testing and prevention has drawn local and national attention. Recently, several schools have come to visit North Kitsap to see what they are doing, so they can make similar strides in their schools. And, just recently, a national web site has published a story on what North Kitsap has been doing in this arena.

Read the story here

Full disclosure: I am a North Kitsap School Board Director and I am proud of Chris and his team. I’m proud that our board has continued to fund this program at the level it has for the benefit of our athletes. I’ve watched Chris and his colleagues for 8 years as a coach. I know the work they do not only with head injuries, but all injuries. Great job!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Head Injuries, the NFL and Jack Tatum

The New York Times has a terrific story in today’s paper about the proactive approach the NFL is finally taking on head injuries. If you are an athlete, coach, parent, or athletic trainer, you must read this. Head injures are no longer being taken lightly. The long-term affects of head injuries is staggering.

Read the article

As for me, this is a 2008 article I wrote for the Washington State Coaches Association quarterly journal. As a risk management consultant and former high school basketball coach, I have my own take and here is its reprisal…

It was December, 2005 and I was coaching the first game of our high school basketball season at North Kitsap High School (WA). It was late second quarter and we were playing North Mason at home. A North Mason player was heading on a two-on-one fast-break and my point guard Katie was in great position to take a charge. As the offensive player made her move to the basket, Katie stood her ground, feet planted, in perfect position.


The collision came and the referee signaled offensive foul. Everyone on our bench and in the stands jumped up and cheered…except for Katie. She lay motionless on the floor.

When I went out to see her it was apparent she had suffered a concussion. Her head hit the floor hard after the impact with the other player. This was her second concussion in a couple of years. Needless to say Katie didn’t finish the game and missed two more before she was cleared to play again.

It’s not only football coaches that should be worried about head injuries. Concussions are common in most sports, especially basketball, soccer, wrestling, and baseball/fast pitch. Any opportunity for contact with either another player or equipment lends itself to this peril. In fact last winter, the UCLA basketball program was in the news as two of their players were out a significant time due to concussions.

Concussions and other head injuries are tough to prevent. They are part of the game. That being said, as a coach, you can plan for them and how you respond. As you head into a new year, now is the time for you as coaches to start preparing your game plan when it comes to head injuries. What do I mean by that?

o Regardless of your sport, make time in your pre-season meeting with players and parents to discuss the inherent dangers of your sport. You need to lead off with a discussion about head injuries. Document your presentation, both with the players and parents. If you can, use video to record the meeting. As I used to tell my players, the video never lies. If you are ever accused of not warning properly, you now have proof. Sorry…it’s the world we live in.
o Don’t take chances. It’s easy to say now that you won’t put an athlete back in a game after a head injury. It’s harder when the game is on the line, the emotions are high, and he/she looks fit to participate. Make a decision now that part of your game plan is to resist that urge and just say no. At North Kitsap, we were fortunate to have a training staff that had to clear an athlete to play. Most high schools don’t have that luxury. And, if you think this doesn’t happen, think again. The newspapers are filled with stories of kids who received serious injuries after going back in following a head injury. Just say no.
o Resist the urge to play them too soon after a concussion. Look, I was one of you. Good sense sometimes flies out the window in the middle of a season. The player wants to play; the parent wants them to play; YOU want them to play. The bottom line is that nothing is as important as your athlete’s health…period. Once a player has suffered a concussion, it is easier to get another one. Troy Aikman and Steve Young are perfect examples. Wait to get medical clearance from a doctor before letting them back into play.

There are two important factors you face with this issue. The first is the long-term health of your player. You have a great responsibility as their coach to protect them from undue harm. Take that responsibility seriously. The second is to protect you. You have liability for their care. If you don’t use best practices, you may find your name on the front page of the paper instead of the sports page…for all the wrong reasons. If you do everything a prudent and educated coach should do when it comes to head injuries, you will be also protecting your reputation and career.

By the way, breaking news on the hard-hitting safety who is famous for applying th hit that paralyzed New England Patriots WR Daryl Stingley. Former Oakland Raiders start Jack Tatum passed away today as the result of a heart attack. He was 61 years old.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved