Program at NC State educates parents on football concussions

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —  Parents got a unique opportunity Wednesday night to see some of the steps being taken on the football field to try to reduce injuries.

The Carolina Panthers, USA Football and N.C. State University hosted a clinic aimed at educating parents on the signs of things like heat illness and concussions. The clinic then gave them the chance to practice drills like their kids.

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Tracy Braswell’s son, Justin, plays football at Enloe High School and suffered a concussion last fall.

“It was a sleepless night because my first question is how did it happen? He said that he really wasn’t paying attention, and he wasn’t prepared to get hit,” said Braswell. “Football is a dangerous thing. You need to pay attention the whole time you’re on that field. It’s not a joke. It’s for you to be serious about it.”

A report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association last fall found a 71 percent spike in people age 10-19 being diagnosed with concussions from 2010-2015. Researchers attribute that in part to increased awareness of concussions as well as new laws requiring treatment of head injuries.

Wake County recently became one of the largest school systems to implement the Heads Up Football program.

Deran Coe, senior administrator of athletics for the county’s schools, said the county hasn’t kept data on injuries at each of the system’s high schools since implementing the program. However, he believes it’s helping.

“There’s obviously going to be an opportunity for injury, but by implementing the Heads Up Football program, we’re doing everything we can to make this great game a little bit safer,” said Coe. “And, it builds our young men into productive citizens in our communities. And, we would hate to see the decline of football happen in the Raleigh area.”

Isaiah Langston’s family recently sued the school system. They say when he died of a stroke in 2014 it was caused by a head injury days prior. He had played football for Rolesville High School.

Researchers at UNC are leading a major new research project on concussions that’s being funded by the NFL. The goal is to help athletes recover from concussion symptoms.

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