JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBS 2) — A recent study links concussions from popular contact sports to brain diseases with symptoms that mimic ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
CBS 2’s Mark Morgan visited a New Jersey high school on Wednesday to learn about a football program aimed at keeping athletes safe on the field.
National powerhouse St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City is not only concerned with winning games, but also with protecting the safety of it’s players through the “Impact Program.”
“It’s an online program where they actually sit down and take a test. And it gives us a baseline of their functions and then if they’re involved in a concussion situation or a suspected concussion situation they will take the test again and the differential will correlate to time out,” head coach Rich Hansen said.
Hansen said players are kept out of action at least five days following a concussion. Their test results and medical examinations then determine when it is safe for them to return to the field.
Morgan spoke with several parents watching practice Wednesday at St. Peter’s, and while expressing concern over concussions they were also very grateful for the Impact Program and how it addresses that issue.
“I would hope that it’s picked up throughout the state. It’s made me much more comfortable sending my son out in a high-impact sport,” Jean Giacone said.
Another part of the program that emphasizes protection is specially-designed helmets that are fully padded and triple-layered with a coating made of fiber approved by NASA.
“I think it’s a great thing that the coaches and everybody else thinks it’s big thing that we get these helmets and make sure our heads are protected,” senior running back Sheldon Royster said.
Added Michael Kaplen of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council: “I think that program, plus the education they’re using to educate parents, coaches as well as the players, has to be replicated across the country.”
With the fear of sports-related concussions taking center stage, St. Peter’s approach just may become the template for athletic programs around the tri-state area.
According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, of nine high school contact sports football led with more than 55,000 reported concussions.