Concord, MA. September 13, 2016. Just in time for the fall sports season, MomsTEAM Institute, a leading child protection in sports education and advocacy non-profit, has launched a new website designed to improve concussion safety by showing how the immediate reporting by athletes of concussion symptoms is not only good for their brains but for individual and team success
Developed by the Institute as part of its SmartTeams Play Safe™ initiative with a NCAA-DoD Mind Matters Challenge grant, the #TeamUp4ConcussionSafety™ program involves coaches, parents, and athletes in a season-long, multi-media effort to change individual and team reporting attitudes and norms towards concussion symptom reporting.
Based on research showing that the reason as many as 60% of concussions in sports still go unreported has less to do with an athlete’s lack of knowledge about concussion symptoms and the health risks of continuing to play with such symptoms than with negative attitudes towards reporting and a sports culture in which athletes are expected to continue play hurt, the new program consists of five steps
- Testing Knowledge and Attitudes. The process of reshaping attitudes and beliefs about concussion symptom reporting can only begin when athletes, coaches, and parents honestly assess what their beliefs are. To test their knowledge about concussions and find out whether they view reporting in a positive or negative light, every stakeholder will be asked to complete a series of quizzes
- Completing a Concussion Safety Course. Knowledge and awareness of concussion has increased substantially over the sixteen years that the Institute has been engaged in pioneering, cutting edge concussion education (first on its legacy site, MomsTeam.com, and now on its new concussion.Smart-Teams.org website). But, because there are still important gaps to fill, coaches, parents, and athletes will be encouraged in Step Two to continue learning about concussions by taking an online concussion education course and watching the Institute’s documentary,The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer, which has been just renewed by PBS for broadcast but is also now streaming for free on the new website;
- Attending a Concussion Safety Meeting. Because studies show that one-off concussion education isn’t enough to change concussion symptom reporting behavior, Step Three calls for coaches, athletes, athletic trainers, team doctors (and, at the youth and high school level, parents) to attend a mandatory concussion safety meeting before every sports season to learn in detail about the benefits of immediate concussion symptom reporting, not just in minimizing the risks concussions pose to an athlete’s short- and long-term health, but in increasing the chances for individual and team success by cutting the average time lost due to injury from six games to three.
- Taking a Concussion Safety Pledge. Step Four of the new SmartTeams Play Safe™ concussion safety game plan calls for stakeholders to demonstrate in a tangible way their commitment to creating a culture in which immediate reporting of concussion symptoms by athletes is a valued team behavior and the sign of a good teammate by signing a concussion safety pledge
- Staying Involved/Sharing Successes.Because negative attitudes towards concussion symptom reporting are deeply entrenched in our sports culture, positive messages about the importance of immediate concussion symptom reporting will be reinforced via a social media campaign in which stakeholders will be encouraged to engage in an ongoing dialog about concussion safety.
“We are very excited to have been given the opportunity by the NCAA and Department of Defense to pilot a completely new approach to concussion education,” said Brooke de Lench, Executive Director of MomsTEAM Institute. She noted that the Institute is still accepting applications from fall sports programs to beta test the #TeamUp4ConcussionSafety game plan.
"With consistent messaging and constant reinforcement of the value of immediate concussion reporting in achieving a sport team’s performance goals, and by making athletes feel comfortable in reporting, we believe that not only will attitudes and beliefs about concussion reporting begin to change, but the concussion reporting behavior of athletes will start to change as well.”
About MomsTEAM/MomsTEAM Institute/SmartTeams
Launched in August 2000, MomsTeam.com has grown over the years, both in terms of content and reputation, to more than 10,000 + pages of information for youth sports parents and has become the most trusted source of sports parenting information, widely recognized as one of, if not the, top websites of its kind.
MomsTeam Institute, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization formed in November 2013 to continue and expand on MomsTEAM's sixteen-year mission of providing comprehensive, well-researched information to youth sports parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals about all aspects of the youth sports experience.
The SmartTeams Play Safe™ initiative was launched by the Institute at a youth sports safety summit it hosted at the Harvard Medical School in September 2014. The concussion.smart-teams.org website is the first in a series of planned websites to be launched under the SmartTeams Play Safe umbrella providing "best practice" standards of care templates and checklists covering all aspects of youth sports health and safety.