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NFL Health Update: Study finds no link in prep football, brain decline



A new study presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans on March 14 suggests risks of sport-related brain injuries in high school are "relatively low," according to an article in Science Daily.

The study's lead author was Dr. Gregory Stewart, associate professor of orthopaedics at Tulane University School of Medicine. The study of high school players found no link between years of play and any decline in neurocognitive function. Researchers retrospectively reviewed data obtained between August 1998 and August 2001 on 1,289 New Orleans high school football players, including years of participation, age and concussion history, as well as scores on common neuropsychological tests

"The correlation between the number of years of football participation and the performance on the digit symbol substitution test does not support the hypothesis that participation in a collision sport negatively affects neurocognitive function," Stewart said. "The implication is that the playing of football is not in and of itself detrimental."

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The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade convened representatives from the NFL, NHL, youth sports leagues and athletes and doctors to discuss efforts to improve sports safety last week. NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller testified at the hearing and provided an overview of the NFL's health and safety work.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), chairman of the subcommittee, outlined the aim of the hearing, "We need to consider a multi-pronged approach aimed at keeping our kids safer while still promoting youth participation in sports. This involves listening to how leaders like the NFL, NHL, youth leagues and top-tier university researchers are partnering to make progress towards making sports safer."


The Cardinals hosted nearly 50local moms at a football safety clinic at their training facilities last week.

The event, held in conjunction with USA Football, included a discussion on concussion protocol, the importance of hydration and improvements in player safety. The moms also participated in a series of Heads Up Football drills while wearing safety equipment.

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The Falcons hosted the team's first moms football safety clinic yesterday at Kings Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Ga. The free clinic was held for those moms whose children are considering or already playing tackle or flag football. Ten Falcons players, including starting safety William Moore, and six former Falcons put the moms in attendance through a series of on-field football drills. Former Falcons linebacker and USA Football Master Trainer Buddy Curry instructed attendees on equipment fit and Heads Up Tackling and concussion awareness. Former Bears player Mike Haynes, who now works on Heads Up Football, served as a guest speaker, and Falcons team neurologist DR. Kaveh Khajavi spoke to the moms about concussion symptoms. The event also included a panel of 'football moms,' featuring the wives and moms of several former Falcons players and front office staff.

"I know it's making a difference," Curry said. "We're informing kids, parents and coaches to give them a different perspective to make better decisions…What the NFL is doing is they're getting to the grassroots level. We're doing this all of over the state of Georgia."

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Dr. Robert B. Anderson, assistant team orthopedist for the Carolina Panthers became the first recipient of the Arthur C. Rettig, M.D. Award for Academic Excellence, named in honor of the Indianapolis Colts' head team physician. DR. James Bradley, the head team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was awarded the Jerry "Hawk" Rhea Award as Outstanding NFL Team Physician. Both awards were presented last month at the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) Scientific Meeting.

Dr. Anderson was honored for his paper on Lisfranc Injuries in Elite Athletes. "Dr. Anderson is one of the nation's preeminent authorities on orthopedic conditions of the foot and ankle. His expertise is recognized by athletes from around the world from all major sports who seek his opinion and treatment," said Dr. Matthew J. Matava, President of the NFLPS and head team doctor for the St Louis Rams.

The Jerry "Hawk" Rhea Award is named after Jerry Rhea, the head athletic trainer for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969-94. The award is presented by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) annually at the NFL Scouting Combine. Dr. James Bradley, a past president of the NFL Physicians Society received the award in Indianapolis from Steelers' head athletic trainer John Norwig.

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