On high school football and brain injury

According to Dr. Uzma Samadani, a University of Minnesota associate professor of neurosurgery and an attending neurosurgeon and brain injury researcher at HCMC, these are three key factors to football and brain health:

1. Risk-benefit analysis: The benefits of playing football far outweigh the risks, she said. “The health benefits of an active interest in sports are huge compared to the risks of brain injury, which are relatively small,” she said.


2. Open lines of communication: An athlete needs to feel he or she can be honest about an injury and not hide it from parents and coaches. “There needs to be a good understanding between you and the coach and the child that if the kid gets hurt, you’re going to pull him out and he’s going to get medical help,” Samadani said.


3. Changes in approach: Football coaches have been forced to change practice techniques and teach new tackling fundamentals, largely to limit unnecessary contact. Many are already in place. Teams in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference play modified flag football until ninth grade. Most high school teams have stopped full-contact drills in practice.


Samadani has spoken at conferences around the country, including the Minnesota Football Coaches Association and the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. She has also been paid to consult for the NFL. To see her presentation to the Texas High School Football Coaches Association , go to http://tinyurl.com/jmnlh5w.

Jim Paulsen