FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2011
(CHICAGO) – Hoping that amateur and professional sports leagues will follow a path similar to that of the National Football League with its recent tightening of rules surrounding head injuries, members of the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) House of Delegates voted today to support efforts to prevent traumatic brain injury (TBI) in athletes at the school, sports club, and professional levels.
“Although it is commonly associated with professional athletes, such as football players, traumatic brain injury can occur in athletes at all levels,” says Stephen M. Scheinthal, DO, an AOA board-certified psychiatrist and a delegate representing the American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists. “Clearer rules aimed at preventing head injuries and what to do when head impact does occur are needed to keep athletes safe, especially children, who are still experiencing brain development and are less structurally stable than adults to sustain physical trauma.”
In particular, the policy passed by delegates calls on youth soccer, which discourages but does not ban soccer headers in children under age 14, and women's lacrosse, which prohibits use of helmets and faceguards rather than require use of protective gear like that in men’s lacrosse, to adopt rules to prevent TBI.
“We are seeing more and more research suggesting a correlation between the number of TBI occurrences sustained during competition and the onset of dementia, depression, head pain and other neurologic problems later in life,” says Dr. Scheinthal, who serves as chief of geriatric behavioral health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine’s New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging in Stratford. “Our hope is to prevent these debilitating effects by taking steps now to prevent head injuries in athletes.”
About the House of Delegates
The AOA’s House of Delegates, comprised of more than 500 delegates representing osteopathic state medical associations, specialty societies, interns, residents and students from throughout the country, meets annually in July to set organizational policies and elect new officers.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.
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