Concussions and head injuries have become an important topic in football at all levels.
The NFL recently reached a $765 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by former players. College football has increased the punishment for players who commit “targeting” penalties.
But the issue is perhaps most frightening at the high-school level and below, where equipment is often old and outdated. Just last week, 16-year old running back Damon Janes from Brocton (N.Y.) High School died after losing consciousness from a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Dr. Barry Jordan, who is director of the Brain Injury Program and the Memory Evaluation Treatment Service (METS) at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, N.Y., spoke to The Oklahoman by telephone to discuss head injuries in football.
Jordan currently serves on the NFL Players Association's Mackey-White Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.
Q: Do you believe football is moving in the right direction when it comes to head injuries?
I think one of the issues is that we're recognizing it more. I think the NFL and the NCAA are making changes in the rules to try and make the sport safer.
Is there more that can be done? Is better equipment an important part of the equation?
The equipment issue is interesting in the sense that there's no concussion-proof helmet. Now, will the improvement in helmet design prevent against the long-term consequences? I don't think anyone knows that. Theoretically, if you could reduce the impacts of each repetitive blow over a period of 10 years, you could see that maybe having a benefit, but nobody has documented that.
I think you need to have properly functioning equipment. It should fit. It should be comfortable so the athlete wears it properly. I think that's very important.