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Awareness for young football players and neck injuries

Dr. Jay Adlersberg reports
October 17, 2013 2:51:51 PM PDT
Most new cases of neck injury happen to players between ages 15 and 35. At levels below professional sports, players, coaches and parents need more awareness about this danger to younger groups in contact athletics.

Twelve-year-old Garrett Ben-Yishay plays football. Why?

"I just like contact and stuff, and hitting people," Garrett said, with a laugh.

But despite a protective helmet, there can be consequences.

"I got blindsided from the side. It was head to head contact, and I fell back on my head," Garrett said.

And his right arm was numb. He had had an injury that stretched the neck, where the head goes one way and the shoulder another. Surgeons are seeing more of the problem.

"Most of these injuries occur when a player decelerates, and the brain and spinal cord, and nerve roots go through a rapid deceleration," said Dr. Pat Roth, of Hackensack Medical Center.

And this can even break a neck bone. If the helmet is not removed correctly, the spinal cord can be damaged and death can result.

You probably know how much you weigh, but your head? It weighs 20 pounds and it is supported by flexible neck joined. It's easy to see how much twisting goes on it a head on football collision.

Coaches may not be aware of how serious a neck injury can be. When Garrett was hit,

"You could hear the coaches saying 'Oh!' and that kind of noise, but they didn't come and help me off the field though," Garrett said.

Coaches and parents need more awareness.

"I know that they did remove his helmet, which probably wasn't a good idea. Obviously, there needs to be more training, we need to make sure we're following the steps properly, that we're not moving these kids around without a knowledge of what's going on with them," said Barbara Ben-Yishey, Garrett's mother.

Garrett is better now, but Dr. Roth said there are no clear guidelines for doctors or coaches about when a youngster should return to the playing field. He says though, the decision should not be left to the young player, but to the parents and the doctor

.


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