A number of the nation's largest youth-sports organizations announced today the formation of a new coalition that aims to protect young athletes against concussions.
The new National Sports Concussion Coalition pairs major sports organizations with medical experts in an attempt to share best practices regarding concussion management and prevention.
The founding members of the coalition are the National Council of Youth Sports, the Pop Warner Little Scholars, the Sports Concussion Institute, U.S. Lacrosse, U.S. Youth Soccer, USA Hockey, the American College of Sports Medicine, the Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball, USA Basketball, USA Football, and the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention. At the collegiate and professional levels, the NCAA, NFL, NFLPA, and National Football Foundation have signed on as partners.
"This collection of organizations is interested in the safety and well-being of our young people," said Sally Johnson, the executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports, in a statement. "We will lead the way by sharing best practices among our organizations and providing parents, coaches, trainers, officials, and athletes with the latest evidence-based facts and information about concussions, general health, and player safety."
The creation of such an alliance will allow the member youth-sports organizations to share their own sport-specific data and best practices with one another. That, in turn, will ideally create a safer playing environment for a large swath of youth athletes across the country.
"In my clinical practice and as a team physician, I see firsthand the difference that evidence-based best practices can make in preventing sports-related concussion," said Dr. William Dexter, the president of the American College of Sports Medicine, in a statement. "The National Sports Concussion Coalition will help millions of youth athletes participate more safely—a goal that brings together the diverse organizations that make up the coalition."
Coalition members will additionally pool financial resources for joint studies and coordinate concussion-education outreach programs, according to the Associated Press.
"The coalition will take the research and basically be a library or depository where we can compare notes and establish best practices," said Jon Butler, the executive director of Pop Warner Football, to the AP.
Over the past few years, the amount of research regarding youth-sports concussions has drastically expanded, as any longtime reader of this blog already knows. A study published in the journal Pediatrics back in June, for instance, found youth-athletes with a history of concussions to have longer-lasting symptoms than those with their first concussion.
While many youth-concussion studies are available for public consumption, the youth-sports organizations in this new coalition also likely have conducted their own analyses based on data they've gathered. The alliance will only aid in the sharing of that research among youth-sports organizations.
As far as we've come over the past few years in terms of youth-sports concussion research, there's still a long way to go before reaching a consensus about concussion management and prevention. Questions remain about the effect of gender and age on concussion risk, sport-specific rules of play that could reduce concussion risk, and further research into the role of baseline neuropsychological testing.
If the new National Sports Concussion Coalition can help address any of those questions, youth athletes will be better off.
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