From local high schools to pros, sports organizations take on concussions

NFL spends $60M on concussion initiative, Jacksonville launches Project 17

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The National Football League recently launched a new initiative to combat concussions. Locally, high school football teams have also pushed to do a better job of monitoring and preventing concussions.

The NFL said it will devote $60 million to developing new technologies to lower the risk of concussions for its players, while in Jacksonville, an initiative called Project 17 seeks to have an athletic trainer in 17 area high schools.

Issues of concussions, as well as hydration, have been at the forefront of youth sports in recent years. Just last year, the U.S. Soccer Federation banned headers for players younger than 10 years old due to concussion concerns.

Even one concussion can have lasting effects on a person's health.

News4Jax sat down with Dr. Dusty Narducci, a concussion specialist at the Mayo Clinic, who said more than anything, colleges and high schools need athletic trainers. Narducci said, nationally, more than 30 percent of high school athletes will never see an athletic trainer.

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“I think the community in Jacksonville has made huge strides,” Narducci said. “Jacksonville sports medicine program has collaborated with the Jacksonville jaguars, the NFL, as well as Jacksonville University to create something called Project 17. By 2020, the goal is to have an athletic trainer in 17 of the local high schools in Jacksonville.”

Regarding the $60 million the NFL is spending, Narducci said there are not a lot of options as far as protection goes, but it would be more about funding concussion education, so people would know how to recognize concussion risks and minimizing them.

“It’s very nonspecific symptoms with concussions,” Naducci said. “You need someone who’s well versed in managing sports injuries to be able to recognize those (and) to prevent a second hit to the head.”

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