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Summer camps help young people sharpen their football skills. That’s why Howard University researchers held a Football Safety Research Workshop recently.

“We wanted to get the faculty in the College of Engineering, Architecture & Computer Sciences school involved in the data collection, diagnostic testing and treatment options for players to better examine these (concussion) problems,” said Dr. Gary Harris, Howard University’s associate provost for research and graduate studies. “The research workshop was an important advance in that direction,” Harris said.

The Howard University workshop featured emerging technologies to “train the brain,” virtual technologies and methods to improve football tackling and blocking to lessen the physical impact.

During the daylong workshop, physicians, scientists, engineers, computer scientists, technology vendors, and educators discussed ways to maximize neurologic health and performance and contribute to the overall safety of athletes playing high impact sports. Harris demonstrated “accelerometer” technology, a device designed to be placed inside an athlete’s football helmet to measure G-force impact of hits.

Workshop presenters included Dr. Terry Thompson, a professor in the Howard University College of Medicine who serves as the athletic physician of the Washington, D.C. Public School League and Dr. Vernon Williams, the founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Williams is also a consultant to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Sparks, Anaheim Ducks, Loyola University, Fullerton College, and numerous high schools.

According to USA Football, the national governing body for amateur American football in the United States, most athletes with a concussion will recover quickly and fully. But for some athletes, signs, and symptoms of concussion can last for days, weeks, or longer.

On the football field, concussions can result from a fall or from players colliding with each other, the ground, or an obstacle, such as a goalpost. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious,” USA Football said.


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