More than ever, Arizona parents are forbidding their kids from playing tackle football.
The news comes from a recent Barrow Neurological Institute Concussion Poll. In it, roughly one-third of the parents asked said their kids won't be playing tackle football because the concussion risk is too high.
Percentages of Arizona parents who allowed their children to play football each year, according to the study:
- 2016: 68%
- 2017: 65%
- 2018: 59%
- 2019: 54%
- 2020: 47%
Dr. Javier Cardenas is one of the nation's leading concussion experts. He leads the Concussion and Brain Injury Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
"By no means am I going to say that it is without risk. Of course, it is (risky) and it is for head injury and it is for neck injury, as well as orthopedic injury."
Dr. Cardenas also tells ABC15 a new initiative called The Football Development Model offers a smarter and safer way to play football and teach the game.
"You're getting kids to participate in the activities of football, such as flag where they're running and passing and doing all those other activities. And then there are different levels when they're engaged in wearing equipment but not necessarily hitting each other. And then finally in tackling and then of course in tackling techniques you are keeping the head out of the tackle. Teaching to wrap around and all these things make for a safer sport."
He also says Helmet Innovation has come a long way.
"What's really exciting when it comes to helmet development is we are in a revolutionary mode of helmet improvement. And by that what I'm saying is that at the NFL level, we have been testing helmets for several years now. Because of the innovation in material science, for every year of testing, we are getting between eight to nine years of improvements. And that's phenomenal."
Barrow has also created a video game app called Barrow Brainball "about concussions and how to avoid them while playing an endless runner game!" You can download it here.
Earlier this year, "USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), introduced its Athlete Health & Wellness Recommendations for youth football play that have earned endorsements by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute (NYSHSI)."