NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Chicago Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey and American cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz hosted more than 200 Illinois mothers at the first NFL team-hosted Moms Football Safety Clinic, which took place at the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall in Chicago this week.
The two-hour clinic included a town hall, whichprovided participants an opportunity to ask Commissioner Goodell and Dr. Oz questions. The attendees rotated through stations on topics important to youth safety in sports, including:
· Concussion Awareness with DR. Elizabeth Pieroth, neuropsychologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem and consultant for several, Chicago-based professional sports teams
· Parental engagement with Jane Skinner, Former Fox News Channel news anchor and wife of Commissioner Goodell, Brittney Payton, Host of Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV; Contributor for NFL AM on NFL Network; daughter of the late Walter Payton and Heads Up Football Advisory Committee members and football moms Christine Golic and Diane Long.
· Heat, Hydration & Nutrition with Mike Schroeder and Lisa Wong of Athletico Physical Therapy
· Heads Up Tackling with USA Football & former Bears players Anthony Adams (Heads Up Football Ambassador), Desmond Clark, Gary Fencik, Mike Richardson (Heads Up Football Ambassador) and James “Big Cat” Williams
· Proper Equipment Fitting with Chicago Bears Equipment Manager Tony Medlin
The NFL hosted its first free Moms Football Safety Clinic in August at Ohio State University. Several NFL clubs have also hosted Health and Safety Forums for parents, youth football coaches and youth players.
Below is a transcript from a Q&A with Dr. Matthew Matava, who serves as President of the NFL Physicians Society and as team physician for the St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Blues and for Washington University athletic teams. He recently answered questions about the role of the team physician and their interaction with players.
Q: What’s a day in the life of a team physician like? What makes your position unique?
A: My daily activities are dependent upon the day of the week. Sunday is game day, which means I am at the stadium about 2.5 hours prior to kickoff in order to address any medical issues that may influence a player’s participation in the game. Monday involves a visit to the training room to evaluate any injured players and review all MRIs, x-rays or other tests that are obtained. Treatment decisions are made and an injury report is given to the head coach. Tuesday is a day off for the players but I will occasionally perform surgery on any player injured in the previous game. Thankfully, this is rarity. Wednesday and Thursday involve visitation to the training facility to evaluate players immediately after practice and determine the progress of injured players in terms of their ability to participate in the upcoming game. Friday is relatively quiet from a medical standpoint. On Saturday, we are available to deal with any last minute medical issues that come up. Once Sunday arrives, the cycle starts all over again.
This schedule is somewhat unique when you consider that the team physicians caring for NFL teams juggle these responsibilities with their regular medical practices, many of which typically involve 60-hour work weeks. Therefore, the fall and early winter months are busy times for NFL team physicians.
Q: When people ask you about the conflicts between working for a team and making players’ best interests a priority, what do you tell them?
A: I tell them that our first, second and third priorities as NFL physicians are player health and safety. What is best for the player is typically best for the team anyway. The stakes are too high and the implications too significant to let competitive issues influence our medical judgment. Fortunately, coaches, general managers and team owners realize the importance of player safety, as well as the fact that rushing a player back in prematurely usually results in an even longer period of recuperation from the original injury.
Q: What is a common misconception about team physicians?
A: That coaches and team owners dictate what medical decisions we make regarding the management of injuries and the timing of return to play. This could not be farther from the truth.
Q: On game day, what does the sideline look like in terms of medical resources available to players?
A: Each NFL game has 25-27 medical personnel immediately available for any possible injury scenario. Beside the teams’ certified athletic trainers, orthopedists and primary care physicians, there are a number of subspecialists, such as an ophthalmologists, dentists and chiropractors present. In addition, there is an independent neuro-trauma specialist (typically a neurosurgeon) present on each sideline to assist with the diagnosis of concussions. The NFL also requires an emergency room physician or anesthesiologist on the sideline. Finally, there is a certified athletic trainer upstairs near the press box overseeing the entire field in order to detect any potential injuries not recognized by the physicians on the field.
In terms of equipment, an NFL sideline resembles a small emergency room with medication, splints, braces, tape, padding and transport carts at our disposal. Every NFL stadium also has an x-ray machine for the immediate evaluation of any potential fractures or dislocations.
Q: How are you part of players’ lives? Do those relationships continue beyond their playing careers?
A. NFL team physicians not only care for the playersbut also their families. A number of players often live in the cities they played in once they retire. We continue to take care of their medical needs long after their playing days are over.
For more information on the NFL Physicians Society, visit www.nflps.org.
HEADS UP FOOTBALL AMBASSADORS VISIT YOUTH LEAGUES
Former NFL players now serving as Heads Up Football Ambassadors spent time with leagues across the country in recent weeks, reinforcing Heads Up tackling and talking about the values of football participation.
Former Buffalo Bills defensive end Phil Hansen spoke at a banquet for the Williston Parks and Recreation District football league in Williston, North Dakota. He said Heads Up Football is meant to help the coaches, as well as the players.
”The volunteers are doing the real work,” he said. “Heads Up Football gives them the tools to teach the game safer.”
Sam Madison, former Miami Dolphins cornerback, spent time at a West Boynton Youth Football League game in Lake Worth, Florida.
“The one thing that we’re really trying to hammer home for kids is to keep your head up,” Madison said. “See what you hit, hit what you see.”
Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran attended practice for the Central Dekalb Jaguars Youth Football team in Stone Mountain, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. The host of Atlanta sports talk show ‘The Front Line’ spoke to the players about the importance of safer tackling techniques and taking the head out of the line of contact.
Other Heads Up Football Ambassadors visiting youth leagues in October include: Ray Buchanan, Randy Gradishar, Jeff Hasting, Aaron Haydent, Brian Kinchen, Chad Lewis, Neil Lomax, Ricardo McDonald, Todd Pinkston, Kendrick Rogers and Roy Williams.
For more information on the NFL’s health and safety work, please visit www.nflevolution.com.
In other NFL and health-related news…
A new study released today by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council calls for better data to help parents make informed decisions about their children participating in sports.
The report, which was supported by a $75,000 grant from the NFL Foundation, provides a broad examination of concussions in a variety of youth sports with athletes aged 5 to 21.
“The findings of our report justify the concerns about sports concussions in young people,” said Robert Graham, chair of the committee and director of the national program office for Aligning Forces for Quality at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. “However, there are numerous areas in which we need more and better data. Until we have that information, we urge parents, schools, athletic departments and the public to examine carefully what we do know, as with any decision regarding risk, so they can make more informed decisions about young athletes playing sports.”
“We commend the IOM’s recommendations and are proud to have supported the study,” said Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller. “We have been engaged on the key issues discussed in the report. It calls for more research into diagnosis and prognosis of concussion, longitudinal studies and education programs to increase concussion awareness and understanding. We are investing in all of those areas and will continue to work in partnership with leading organizations on youth sports safety.”
Among the study’s findings:
· “Very little research has evaluated the relationship between concussions and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. There currently are no data to evaluate this relationship because existing post-concussion symptom evaluations do not assess suicidal thoughts.”
· “Whether repetitive head impacts and multiple concussions sustained in youth lead to long-term neurodegenerative disease, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), remains unclear.”
· Concussion rates per 10,000 athletic exposures in college athletics according to the Datalys Center (2009-2013): field hockey (14.5%); wrestling (12.4%); men’s ice hockey (8.2%); women’s soccer (6.5%) and football (6.3%).
Click here or copy the link to see the press release which includes a link to the study.