New data on concussions in young football players - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New data on concussions in young football players

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The football helmets used by the LVPRA The football helmets used by the LVPRA
South Georgia youth performing drills during pop warner football practice South Georgia youth performing drills during pop warner football practice
George Page demonstrating the safety features on their new helmets George Page demonstrating the safety features on their new helmets
Eric Stiefel Eric Stiefel
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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

In Valdosta and Lowndes County there are few things bigger than football, and kids get started early here.

"Huge, huge. The culture of football down here is just an awesome atmosphere," said George Page, Executive Director of the Valdosta Lowndes Parks and Recreation Association.

According to a report published by the Associated Press today, 4.3% of players ages five to 14 were diagnosed with concussions.

That's based on data collected from six youth leagues around the country in 2012 and 2013.

The numbers increase the older the player gets, something orthopedic surgeon Eric Stiefel said makes sense.

"I think it intuitively makes sense that as the level of competition increases, the athletes become bigger, faster, stronger," said Stiefel. "This is gonna translate to harder hits and possibly increased risk of concussions."

Stiefel also points out that while young players are less likely to get a concussion, the effects of concussions are more dangerous for them.

"Athletes younger than 18 may take longer to recover from the symptoms of a concussion, which can put them at risk for something called second impact syndrome," Stiefel said.

And that's why the Valdosta Lowndes Parks and Recreations Association is using the latest technology in the helmets for young players.

"The good thing about this helmet is that the chin strap actually molds with the helmet. When you tighten your chinstrap, it also tightens your helmet to make it a better fit for each individual kid that's wearing it," explained George Page.

Which will hopefully help make South Georgia's signature sport safer for its youngest players.

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