New rules and equipment put southern Indiana football parents at - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New rules and equipment put southern Indiana football parents at ease

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- High school football doesn't come without contact.

But teams like New Albany are working to reduce the risk of concussions.

"I think it's good that they're trying to find ways to help the players, to help protect, even at this age," said Timothy Clark, a football parent. "They hit not as hard as the pros, but even starting at a lower level, I think it's great." 

Clark's son Dillion is the team's quarterback. He and his teammates are wearing a new five-star rated helmet donated by Norton Healthcare. The team is also only having full-contact practice twice a week because of a new rule this year from the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

"With football, it kind of goes synonyms nowadays to be watchful for concussions," said Don Unruh, the New Albany Athletic Director. "The five-star helmets that we have a really state-of-the-art, and it really makes a big difference." 

Sports medicine doctor Jeff Stephenson sees a lot of injuries on the football field.

"Obviously lower body injuries play a roll, a lot of ankle sprains, knee sprains, ligament injuries in the knees, and then concussions (are) probably one of the most common," Stephenson said.

He says teaching proper tackling technique and getting updated helmets and better screening for concussions is making a difference.

"If you see something that's concerning, investigate it," Stephenson said. "Don't just write it off. Make sure that these kids are evaluated properly." 

Stephenson understands why some parents are concerned and not letting their kids play the sport at all.

"We don't want to sound all the alarms. I think football still has a lot of benefit for kids. It really teaches them a lot of discipline and a lot of structure, but it really comes down to what's best for the children." 

Parents like Clark say he feels better with the changes at New Albany, which are designed to help keep his son safe.

"I don't think the coaches would put him back in," Clark said about if his son were to suffer a concussion. "I have the confidence in all the coaches to pull him if he's hurt."

A headache is one of the most common symptoms of concussions, but doctors say parents should also look for changes in behavior.

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New rules and new helmets give a new look to Indiana high school football

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