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Virginia Heads Up Football programs aim to reduce brain injuries

The lasting effects of Virginia brain trauma are becoming more and more known and understood as the medical field continues to study the issue. The issue has especially been emphasized in relation to youth sports, most notably football and other high-contact sports. Because of the real and documented possibility for brain injuries, especially repeated injuries, to cause permanent disability and other significant long-term problems, many youth sports have been investigating ways to minimize the risk.

In relation to football, the Heads Up Football program was developed. The Heads Up program focused on training coaches on how to teach players to keep their heads up when tackling, training parents and coaches on concussion awareness and providing instruction related to proper fitting of football pads and responding to overheating and dehydration issues. In 2014, hundreds of high schools and youth leagues in 44 different states, including Virginia, participated in the Heads Up Football program. A study on the program's effectiveness-comparing the rate of concussions in both games and practices for players participating in the Heads Up program with players who did not participate -- found that concussions during practices decreased by nearly 35 percent and concussions during games decreased by nearly 30 percent.

Brain injuries and serious brain trauma can result in many different situations, ranging from youth sports to falls to car accidents. A traumatic brain injury is often one of the more serious types of injuries that a person can suffer because of the long-term problems that often result from brain injuries. These problems include memory loss and cognition problems, personality changes, emotional issues, seizures and comas, and sometimes even death. The risk of suffering a long-term or permanent disability after a brain injury generally increases with each subsequent injury.

The effects of a traumatic brain can irrevocably change a person's life. In many cases, a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury will no longer be able to work or perform the daily activities that he or she used to. For these reasons, the costs associated with a traumatic brain injury go beyond the initial medical treatment required to include long-term care, rehabilitation and other extensive treatment. In cases where a person's brain injury was caused by the fault or negligence of another person, a personal injury lawsuit may be an effective way to recover the compensation needed to cover these costs.

Source: USA Today, "Study shows positive results for Heads Up Football youth program," Gary Mihoces, Feb. 16, 2015

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