USA Football
Safety Guide for Parents

Our program is a big proponent of player safety. We were one of the first programs in the United States (and were one of the original pilot project sites) to embrace the USA Football Head's Up program for player safety. Information regarding this program and the manner in which tackling is taught can be reviewed at the following link: http://www.usafootball.com. In general, the program stresses a number of key issues in order to promote player safety. These include proper helmet fitting, recognition/appropriate management of concussion signs and symptoms, recognition/management of heat/hydration issues, rethinking practice methodology (levels of contact) to reduce the total number of hits sustained and teaching new methods of blocking and tackling (Heads Up).

Below we summarize a number of key points to assist our parent group in educating themselves about these critically important matters:

Concussion Identification

Signs Observed by Coaches Symptoms Reported by Players
Appears dazed or confused Headache or "pressure" in head
Is confused about assignment or position Nausea or vomiting
Forgets an instruction Balance problems or dizziness
Is unsure of game, score or opponent Double or blurry vision
Moves clumsily Sensitivity to light
Answers questions slowly Sensitivity to noise
Loses consciousness (even briefly) Feeling sluggish, foggy, hazy or groggy
Shows mood, behavior or personality changes Concentration or memory problems
Can't recall events prior to hit or fall Confusion
Can't recall events after hit or fall Doesn't feel "right" or is "feeling down"

Graduated Return to Play Protocol (following concussion)

This is a series of physical exertional challenges our players must successfully complete (without increasing symptoms each day) to return to full activity--only one step per day. If symptoms recur, we stop, rest that day and the next before retrying that level:

  • Step 1: No symmptoms at rest and able to tolerate a normal day of activity in school or social situations without increasing symptoms (and obtain medical clearance to move to Step 2)
  • Step 2: increase heart rate without any head movement (light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary exercise bicycle for 20 minutes at <70% of maximum heart rate); no strength training.
  • Step 3: Increase heart rate with full head and body movement (jogging for 20 minutesat same level of intensity as in Step 2)
  • Step 4: Begin simple drills (no sprinting, no contact; OK to start weight training).
  • Step 5: More complex drills and practice (no contact); obtain medical clearance to move to Step 6.
  • Step 6: Full practice with sprinting, contact and scrimmage time.
  • Step 7: Return to normal exertional and competitive activity

Heat Problems

Key to prevention is adequate acclimatization, hydration and common sense in running practices

Remember: if player needs hospital, cool before transporting (key to survival of heat stroke)

HEAT EXHAUSTION

· The inability to continue exercise in the heat from either weakness or exhaustion.

· May feel hot, tired, sweating a lot, weak, dizzy and don't feel able to continue exercise.

· Causes: Excessive fluid loss/electrolyte loss; dehydration less blood available for working muscles/skin to give off heat.
· Treatment

1. Remove athlete from activity and put in shaded/cool area.

2. Lay on the ground with legs raised about 12 inches.

3. Replenish lost fluids.

4. Moderate cooling methods such as ice towels, misting fans, or cold water immersion.

HEAT CRAMPS

· Painful, localized muscle cramps, might feel like they are "wandering" throughout the cramping muscle.

· Usually visible, the muscle will feel hard.

· Causes: fatigue, dehydration and electrolyte losses through sweat; lack of heat acclimatization, poor fitness.
· Treatment

1. Rehydration with water and sport drinks.

2. Some light stretching or massage with ice on the cramping muscle.

HEAT SYNCOPE

· A fainting or lightheadedness episode.
· Causes: lack of heat acclimatization, poor fitness; blood pooling in lower extremities reducing the heart's ability to provide enough circulation.
· Treatment

1. Lay athlete on the ground and raise their legs about 12 inches.

2. This helps blood go back to the heart to normalize blood pressure.

HEAT STROKE

· Combination of: Incredibly Hot Skin, Dizziness and Fainting, Extreme Fatigue, Nausea, Vomiting, Rapid Heartbeat, Mental Confusion, Seizures, Lack of Sweating, Severe Headache

· Medical emergency requiring immediate cooling and ER

 
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