By US Lacrosse | @uslacrosse
US Lacrosse is making tremendous strides towards keeping players safer as the organization continues the expansion of human and financial resources devoted to health and safety research.
If he had any reason to doubt the impact of research, it was quickly blown away during the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Rules Committee meeting for boys’ lacrosse. US Lacrosse presented data from a video research project that it had helped fund that showed blindside hits were one of the leading causes of concussions in boys’ lacrosse.The result? The NFHS Rules Committee added a definition that specifically called out hits on defenseless players as an illegal body check and increased the penalty for such hits to a two- or three-minute non-releasable extra-man situation to help deter these types of hits.“We advocated that the NFHS look at defenseless hits, they saw the evidence and made the rule change,” said Bruce Griffin, director of health and safety for US Lacrosse. “There was a direct correlation.”Since the formation of US Lacrosse, safety has been a constant focus of the organization. US Lacrosse has a Sports Science and Safety Committee made up of some of the leading experts across multiple disciplines to guide the organization to make decisions in the best interest of the sport and the athletes who play.Lacrosse-specific research is a valuable tool in helping the committee make recommendations.In 2013, US Lacrosse piloted a program geared towards reducing ACL injuries in the sport. Athletes involved in the program undergo a thorough warm-up session with dynamic exercises to help strengthen their bodies before beginning play. The players completed a series of strength tests before and after the season to monitor their progress.The early returns were promising — no players in the study suffered an ACL injury — but there is much work to be done.“The kids’ numbers were all stronger and you would assume that makes them less likely to have an injury, but we don’t have a large enough sample size yet to see,” said Griffin. “If we can create a lacrosse-specific ACL reduction program with proven results, that would be great for the sport. ACL injuries are the leading lost-time injury in lacrosse.”Increased funding is critical to allowing the Sports Science and Safety Committee to expand its scope.“We’re starting phase one of a study to see how coaches education effects player safety,” said Griffin.“The initial proposal was for $50,000, but we were only able to fund $28,000 so we have to start small and just do a piece of what we want to do.”
- Invested more than $100,000 in lacrosse-specific injury research. That figure will grow to more than $175,000 in 2014 as US Lacrosse continues to look at key issues such as reducing concussions.
- Hired Bruce Griffin as the organization’s first full-time director of health and safety. He is responsible for coordinating US Lacrosse safety initiatives.
- Adopted Standard for Athlete Safety and Protection, a policy that states that US Lacrosse will not tolerate physical or sexual abuse of a child. The policy gives clear cut steps of what to do in a suspected case and provides best practices for leagues to follow to avoid issues.
- Conducted Sports Medicine Symposium at US Lacrosse National Convention to share pertinent information with coaches and medical personnel.
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