August 30, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Sports News
Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) join forces in the wake of national concern to prevent head and neck injuries in young athletes.

PENSACOLA, Fla. - With football season practice underway, the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Pensacola, Florida has funded the distribution of a 14-minute video, “Heads Up – Reducing the Risk of Head and Neck Injuries in Football.” Produced by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the DVD communicates how athletes should play safe to avoid concussions, neck sprains and catastrophic injuries such as paralysis and quadriplegia. Nearly every high school in the nation, including football coaches and athletic directors, has received free copies to share with their athletes prior to the start of the active football season.

“I have witnessed on a first-hand basis the results of improper tackling techniques,” says Dr. James Andrews, medical director of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and renowned orthopaedic surgeon. “All it takes is one incident to end a football career and have medical issues for the rest of your life. Simple adjustments to tackling techniques is all it takes to prevent such devastating injuries. We want to prevent any kind of head injury in young athletes because the effects will be seen for many years to come. This a major concern for professional football as well.”

“We need players, coaches and parents to be aware of the dangers of head-down contact and spearing, which can cause cervical spine and head injuries or even death,” said Ron Courson, director of sports medicine, University of Georgia. “Each time a player initiates contact with his head down, he risks quadriplegia. Each time a player initiates contact head first, he increases the risk of concussion.”

Participants in the video include Tony Dungy, head football coach, Indianapolis Colts; Jerry Punch, MD, college football commentator for ABC Sports and ESPN; Grant Teaff, executive director, American Football Coaches Association, Ron Courson, ATC, PT, director of sports medicine, University of Georgia and chairman of NATA’s College/University Athletic Trainers’ Committee; Jonathan Heck, MS, ATC, coordinator of athletic training, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; and noted physicians Robert Cantu, MD, FACSM and Joseph Torg, MD.

The DVD emphasizes correct techniques when initiating contact with an opponent. “The best way is to keep your head up, see what you hit and hit with your shoulder,” says Tony Dungy, head coach for the Indianapolis Colts. “It really doesn’t matter what position you play or where you are on the field. The object of the collisions is to deliver a blow and come out of it in great shape.”

The DVD was developed to educate players following the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) updated rules on head-first contact (sometimes referred to as spearing), which were recently introduced.

The NCAA rule states: No player shall use his helmet (including the face mask) to butt or ram an opponent or attempt to punish him. No player shall strike a runner with the crown or the top of his helmet in an attempt to punish him. The NFHS removed the word “intentional” from its spearing rule.

“The new rule was a very important signal sent out across the world of football that we are now making sure you understand that you tackle with your eyes, so you’re able to see who you are attacking or what you’re tackling,” says Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.

To communicate the urgency and importance of this vital issue, the Andrews Institute encourages all athletic trainers, coaches and officials to obtain the video and share it with their athletes. Copies can be obtained to share with youth, high school and collegiate teams, as well as representatives of major youth sports organizations. Additional information and a link to the video is available at, where it may be accessed for free.


About the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine:

Situated outside of Pensacola, Florida in Gulf Breeze, the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine provides world-class care and service for the athlete in everyone. The one-of-a-kind center focuses on the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries while using the expertise of nationally and internationally renowned orthopaedic surgeon James Andrews, M.D. Dr. Andrews is best known as physician to some of sport’s greatest professional athletes.

The Andrews Institute is an affiliate of Baptist Health Care, located in Pensacola, Florida. Baptist Health Care is the proud recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s premier award for performance excellence and quality achievement. For six consecutive years, Baptist Health Care has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work. It is the only locally owned health care system in Northwest Florida that has placed on the list that recognizes the nation’s most employee friendly organizations.

About NATA:

Athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research.