AHSAA says AL leads the way in student athlete concussion prevention

Updated: Jul. 25, 2017 at 8:03 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A recent study found nearly all tested brains of former football players showed symptoms of a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

The brain disease is a result of repeated head trauma and in people who have suffered multiple head collisions or concussions. According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, athletes and veterans are the groups most commonly found with the disease.

With football season right around the corner, some are concerned about the threat against athletes, particularly student athletes.

Steve Savarese, executive director for the Alabama High School Athletic Association, said studies like the one previously mentioned are important.

"A lot of people look at those articles as negative and will hurt the sport of the football, soccer or any other sport where concussions are prevalent," Savarese said. "We look at it as positive because it creates an awareness. Without that awareness, we would never have the safety protocols that we have today."

The protocols include mandatory concussion training for every coach. According to Savarese, Alabama was the first state to require this of all coaches.

"We believe Alabama has been at the forefront of those safety protocols," Savarese said.

He said AHSAA also provides information on concussions to parents, keeps schools updated on the latest safety standards and has limited the ways players can practice.

"There's no more two-a-days on consecutive days," Savarese said. "You can't wear pads twice a day.  We have placed practice protocols to protect students and limit the amount of contact."

Lee Carter, head football coach at Jefferson Davis High School, said there are also rules that only allow players to have 90 minutes of full contact drills each week.

"That's the rule, but I don't even know of any coaches who get close to that," Carter said. "We don't do a lot of full contact periods during practice. We want them to actually be able to play on game day."

On top of being trained to spot the symptoms of concussions, Carter said there are athletic trainers at each practice to detect them as well. He said he has been to multiple coaches' conferences where coaches are being taught to teach players different ways to tackle that limit force to the head.

"I played football, I've had a concussion, and I know how it feels," Carter said. "These things can have lasting impact. No one takes it lightly, and this is not a new concern for us. We have been addressing this for a while."

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