Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr took to the podium yesterday to spread the word about preventing sports injuries.
Carr and other University community members participated in the annual National Public Health Week, this year called “Safety is No Accident,” yesterday as the School of Public Health held a symposium on traumatic brain injuries in sports. The symposium focused on the steady increase of sports-related concussions over the past few decades and strategies on how to combat the trend.
Carr said participation in sports is important for students and children, but necessary precautions must always be taken to ensure safety.
“(It’s) always important to remember the risks involved and preparing for the safety, health and well-being of ourselves before engaging in such sports,” Carr said during the discussion.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily after the event, Carr said people should take advantage of the University’s resources to educate themselves about concussion prevention.
“I think it is important to recognize that there are a lot of things going on at this University from an educational standpoint,” Carr said. “It is important that we take advantage of this potential and put it to good use in stopping this injury problem.”
While Carr highlighted the University’s resources, another panelist, David Sleet, associate director for science in the division of unintentional injury prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focused on steps the CDC has taken to spread information to athletes and coaches about how to properly deal with concussions.
Sleet also spoke about traumatic brain injuries in children, citing that children ages 10 to 14 are most likely to suffer from concussions or other traumatic brain injuries. He added that traumatic brain injuries are responsible for 50,000 deaths and 235,000 hospitalizations each year.
The CDC offers more than 200,000 training sessions annually to youth sports coaches and staff on how to properly diagnose, treat and prevent traumatic brain injuries, he said.
“It is very important to recognize that sports are not the only way a concussion is suffered,” Sleet said. “It is also important to note that a concussion can occur — despite common belief — without loss of consciousness, and in fact, more commonly does occur without loss of consciousness.”
A player who suffers a concussion might forget plays, appear dazed or confused, have long-lasting dizziness or speak in incoherent sentences, Sleet said. He stressed the importance of identifying and reporting these symptoms to ensure players’ safety.
The third panelist, Jeffrey Kutcher, the director of the Michigan NeuroSport Concussion Program at the University, said one of the biggest misconceptions about head traumas, specifically concussions, is that they primarily occur in football. However, he noted that over the past several years, one of the most common sports in which University athletes suffered head traumas was water polo.
Head injuries are not a new phenomenon and have been an issue for decades, Kutcher said. He added that the National Collegiate Athletic Association was founded in 1906 at the direction of former President Theodore Roosevelt to help prevent injuries in college sports.
“Head injuries are not a new concept,” Kutcher said. “This was first described in 1928 in boxers, so these problems have been occurring for decades. This is nothing new, as has the process of prevention, arguable at too slow of a rate.”