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Teaming Up to Protect Young Athletes

Photo: Football playerA new partnership helps Washington State football coaches recognize and respond to concussions. The partnership emphasizes that to best protect young athletes, coaches and parents should insist safety comes first, ensure athletes always wear the right protective equipment, and make sure youth sports leagues have a concussion plan in place.


Coaches and parents, if you suspect a concussion, you should:

  1. Remove the athlete from play.
  2. Ensure the athlete is evaluated immediately by an appropriate healthcare professional.
  3. Allow the athlete to return to play only with permission from a healthcare professional with experience in evaluating concussions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is teaming up with the Seattle Seahawks and the Brain Injury Association of Washington as part of a campaign to help prevent young athletes from sustaining concussions, a serious but often underestimated health threat in the United States. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that can disrupt the way the brain normally works. As many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur annually in the United States.

The campaign, "Washington Heads Up: Concussion in Sports," is an expansion of CDC's "Heads Up: Concussion in High School" and "Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports" initiatives. It includes materials and information to help coaches identify concussions and take immediate steps to respond when one is suspected. Campaign spokesman and former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard is featured in the campaign's TV public service announcement (airing fall 2008).

Campaign materials emphasize the methods coaches and parents should practice to best protect athletes and prevent long-term problems:

  • Insist safety comes first.
  • Ensure athletes always wear the right protective equipment for their activity.
  • Make sure their youth sports league or administrator has a concussion action plan in place.

As part of the campaign, clipboards and posters provide a comprehensive list of signs and symptoms of a concussion, as well as important steps to take when a concussion is suspected. Washington Heads Up: Concussion in Sports materials are being distributed to every middle and high school in Washington State along with a letter from the Seattle Seahawks.

More Information

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