With football pre-season practice gearing up, the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) has just released a new 14-minute video, Heads Up Reducing the Risk of Head Injuries in Football, to help athletes play safe and avoid concussions, neck sprains and catastrophic injuries such as paralysis and quadriplegia.

The video is available from NATA at http://www.nata.org/consumer/headsup.html where it may be downloaded or purchased in DVD format for $10.00 each, to share with youth, high school and collegiate teams, as well as representatives of major youth sports organizations.

Participants in the video include Tony Dungy, head football coach, Indianapolis Colts; Jerry Punch, MD, college football commentator for ABC Sports and ESPN; Grant Teaff, executive director, American Football Coaches Association, Ron Courson, ATC, PT, director of sports medicine, University of Georgia, who also chairs NATAs College/University Athletic Trainers Committee; Jonathan Heck, MS, ATC, coordinator of athletic training at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; and noted physicians Robert Cantu, MD, FACSM and Joseph Torg, MD.

The video was developed to educate players following the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) updated rules on head-first contact (sometimes referred to as spearing), which were introduced last year.

The NCAA rule states: No player shall use his helmet (including the face mask) to butt or ram an opponent or attempt to punish him. No player shall strike a runner with the crown or the top of his helmet in an attempt to punish him. The NFHS removed the word intentional from its spearing rule.

The new rule was a very important signal sent out across the world of football that we are now making sure you understand that you tackle with your eyes, so youre able to see who you are attacking or what youre tackling, said Teaff.

To communicate the urgency and importance of this vital issue, NATA encourages all athletic trainers, coaches and officials to obtain the video and share it with their athletes.

We need players to be aware of the dangers of head-down contact and spearing, which can cause cervical spine and head injuries and even death, said Courson. Each time a player initiates contact with his head down, he risks quadriplegia. Each time a player initiates contact head first, he increases the risk of concussion.

The video emphasizes correct techniques when initiating contact with an opponent. The best way is to keep your head up, see what you hit and hit with your shoulder, said Dungy. It really doesnt matter what position you play or where you are on the field. The object of the collisions is to deliver a blow and come out of it in great shape.

About NATA:

Certified athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. www.nata.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).


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