WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/713244

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Page 159 of 211

WYF has purchased new helmets twice in the past eight years, most recently the Riddell Speed Flex Helmet, which carries a five-star rating. Improved helmet technology is just one component of addressing safety, says Maiona. In the eight years since WYF began, there have been other changes: n CERTIFIED athletic trainers are now present at every football game. n PLAYERS who have been hit in the head or complain of a headache are pulled from practices or games until they have been evaluated by a physician and cleared. n HEADS-UP tackling technique, which takes the head out of tackling, is taught. n ALL COACHES are required to complete a concussion awareness program. n CONTACT TIME during each practice is now limited. Knowing all of this, can WYF player par- ents sleep soundly? Dr. Michael O'Brien, the director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Chil - dren's Hospital, notes that he does not feel improved helmet technology has meaning- fully decreased the risk of concussions. He does, however, believe that other changes have. At the professional level, for example, rule changes have led to a significant decrease in unnecessary hits, for which players are now heavily penalized. At the youth level, changes including limiting contact during practices; focusing on safer tackling methods; and emphasizing strengthening the neck, shoul- ders, and core can help. Dr. O'Brien, who played high school foot- ball, notes that football does carry the high- est concussion risk per hour of exposure, but that the absolute numbers of concussions are higher in some other sports, including soccer and basketball. This is in part because sports like soccer are played nearly year-round by many youths (versus football, which has a single season), so the amount of exposure is family matters "rule changes have led to a significant decrease in unnecessary hits" 158 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 6

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