I am proud to say that the concussion management support system that Countywide Concussion Care developed along with UHealth in Miami-Dade County also covers Monroe and Palm Beach Counties! This expansion effort has been aided by the support of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, to whom the CCC team is extremely grateful.
Now seeing how flexible and comprehensive our concussion management expertise has proved in multiple counties, we are looking find counties across the United States looking for guidance in how to set up their own comprehensive youth concussion support systems. The time to do so is now, as we know too much about the risk of youth concussions to leave young athletes without the care they need when they suffer head injuries. Additionally, Miami will host the upcoming Super Bowl, an opportunity we hope to leverage in order to gain access to counties across the nation.
I am so proud of the work we have done in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties, and I look forward to the expansion of our program. Inquiries from prospective partners are welcome!
All the best,
As the Fall semester of my Junior year begins to wind down, the prevalence of concussion-related stories in the news continues to grow. As reported by CNN, U.S. Soccer, the organization that oversees the sport for the entire country, declared that a new protocol would be put into place that states that players ten years old and younger will not be allowed to head the ball, and that players under thirteen years old will have limited exposure to headers in practice (Botelho). This is a huge development in the sport and one that has turned a lot of heads.
My stance on these new rules is that the pros outweigh the cons. This protocol aims to develop habits in this country’s young soccer players that will make it so they are less inclined to do headers in the future, which therefore decreases the risk of concussion. The more time players spend with the ball at the their feet when they are young, the more comfortable they will be with the ball, and the more willing they will be to keep the ball on the floor when they play.
Objectors argue that heading is a crucial part of the game and that not learning how to do so in the earliest stages of player development will make our countries talent pool less competitive on the world’s stage.
However, detractors of how soccer is played in the United States often cite that our players need to improve their technique with the ball at their feet, and putting less emphasis on heading the ball will help make this a reality. Additionally, I believe that heading technique is much more easily learnable in older age groups than in younger age groups. It does not take many years to master how to head the ball, yet you can always get better at dribbling and passing with your feet. I would also imagine that the teaching of heading technique will be systematized across the country now that the new rules are in place, and if U.S. Soccer makes it a priority to outline for coaches how to teach heading, players will learn at the right time how to correctly head the ball.
The point of these changes are to establish better habits in our young soccer players so that the relative importance that they place on doing headers in games is reduced. Though the reality is that headers are a part of soccer, we can teach our youth soccer players that there are ways to have success on the field that put their heads at less risk. I think it is important that U.S. soccer keeps track of concussion statistics over the next few years in order to have empirical evidence to show our teams are doing better while at the same time being safer. I think that this result will indeed be the case, but it is important to have the numbers to back up this claim.
U.S. Soccer has made great progress with their awareness of concussions in youth athletics, and I hope that important athletic organizations continue to address this issue. If you are reading this post and would like to speak to me about topics including the new U.S. soccer protocol, Countywide Concussion Care, or concussion awareness, feel free to reach out to me on the Contact Us page. Thanks for reading!
Botelho, Greg. “U.S. Youth Soccer Players Told: Don’t Head the Ball.” CNN. Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 10 Nov. 2015. Web.
As I prepare to start my Junior year of college and my first season as an undergraduate Varsity Soccer Coach, I cannot help but look back on how my life has been shaped by my experience with concussions and concussion awareness. When I first started thinking about applying to colleges, playing NCAA soccer was certainly a priority of mine. However, because of the head injuries that I had suffered, I was not medically cleared by my doctors to pursue this endeavor. This development was a significant disappointment, as I had trained so hard for years hoping to one day reach this level of competition. During my first few semesters at college, I was able to play soccer recreationally, but I felt something was missing; I wanted to be involved in the highest level of collegiate soccer.
Countywide Concussion Care was created because I wanted to turn my negative experience of having suffered concussions into something positive. Going into my Spring semester last year, I remembered this choice and decided to take a similar course of action in regards to my soccer life. I interviewed with the Varsity Soccer coaching staff, and they gave me the position of undergraduate assistant coach. Working with the team has been an incredible experience, and I look forward to this upcoming season.
I have come to see first hand the power of turning a negative into a positive. Countywide Concussion Care is a prime example as is my coaching position. The lesson that I hope to spread through this post and with the Countywide Concussion Care program is a whole is that the increased awareness of the danger of concussions offers us a tremendous opportunity to do good and to make athletics safer. Rule changes across different sports such as football and soccer have been proposed and implemented, media coverage of such developments is ever-increasing, and more preventative measures are in the works. More and more research is being done to find out as many details about the real effects of concussions. We must continue these efforts in order to make athletics as safe as possible. Please contact me through this website if you are interested in working together towards achieving this goal!
Since my last post, the world of concussion awareness has continued to become more prevalent in the conscious of American and global society. FIFA, the governing body of global soccer, along with top league such as the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League have adopted new in-game concussion protocols, and the discussion about concussions continues to develop in the world’s most popular sport. This past season in the NFL, the new rule that requires a Independent Neurological Consultant to evaluate players who are suspected of having a concussion was a positive step forward, though there is plenty of work still to be done to protect football players from concussions.
There have also been several articles written that have praised the concussion management and education work that has been done, reevaluated the effectiveness of these efforts, and proposed plans for the future. In light of the conference at Princeton that I participated in and which I wrote about in my previous post, Peter Keating wrote an article for ESPN citing Princeton Professor Uwe Reinhardt’s idea that NFL fans should have a health tax added to the price of their tickets to go towards players’ health care. Here is the link to this interesting article:
These types of innovative ideas may not be favored by all, but they do represent how major changes will likely be coming to the world of sports soon to push the bill on concussion prevention and treatment even further.
On a personal note, I have continued to work with Princeton University researcher Dr. Annegret Dettwiler-Danspeckgruber on ideas for research, policies to make Princeton University a leader in concussion management and education, and initiatives to make collegiate and youth athletics safer environments. I appeared on the award winning soccer XM radio show Over the Ball to discuss concussions in youth soccer and my work with Countywide Concussion Care, and it was a fantastic opportunity to spread my message on a national stage. The people who called in to the hosts after my interview expressed how they had learned a great deal from my story and were excited to apply their furthered knowledge of concussion awareness to their children’s youth athletic careers. As my time in college moves forward, I will continue to find opportunities to spread the word about concussion awareness and work with administrators of various institutions to foster safer spaces for youth and collegiate athletics. I cannot wait for what is next!
I write this blog having finished my second semester at Princeton in the Spring and my first summer as a counselor at Camp Androscoggin. Both experiences were fantastic opportunities to take on new responsibilities, make lasting friendships, and grow into a more mature person. As a player for the Princeton Men’s Club Soccer team and as a soccer coach at Camp Andro, each day I gained an even greater appreciation for the way that concussion awareness has spread in recent times. Both my classmates with whom I played and the young campers I coached protect their heads and have an understanding of the symptoms of concussions that was not part of the youth sports culture even just a few years ago. This goes to show me that this country has become a safer place for kids to participate in and receive the many benefits of sports.
I want to continue to increase the awareness of concussions in this country. In order to do that, I am searching for schools and county boards across the country to adopt the guidelines of Countywide Concussion Care. As I mentioned in my last post, Countywide Concussion Care is now a licensed entity. This program lays out a comprehensive plan to bring concussion education and management county by county. Dr. Gillian Hotz, one of the top concussion specialists in the country and the administrator for the ImPACT Testing component of Countywide Concussion Care, believes that this program is one of a kind. I urge the readers to please spread the word about this program and to find high schools and county boards interested in having an effective concussion management and education program for their county. Each county that uses Countywide Concussion Care is another one that can take comfort in knowing that its youth athletes are better protected from concussions.