Protective Headgear Leads to Reduction in Concussions at Fort Worth School

For the first time, researchers at the renowned Virginia Tech Helmet lab tested the performance of protective headgear for soccer players.

Researchers found some of the headgear on the market can reduce head injuries by up to 84 percent in some cases.

Still, many high school teams don't equip their players with these kinds of head bands and a Fort Worth soccer coach is on a mission to change that.

"They're not allowed to step on the field without one," Shad Green, coach of the Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School's girls soccer team, said. 

He made the headgear a requirement for his players after a devastating season three years ago, when 10 girls on the team suffered a total of 14 concussions.

"What were we going to put on these girls' heads once they finished concussion protocol and came back into practicing and playing games? That's what got me kind of motivated to use the protective head gear," Green said.

He wrote a letter to every business he could and held team fundraisers to generate enough donations for the headbands, which cost about $40 each. 

The following season, when the entire team was equipped with headgear, Green said not one girl suffered a concussion.

"I can't tell you the number of times we will be at a game and you'll see a girl and she'll go down, and her head will go down and hit the turf and she'll pop back up. Two years ago, I would have said, oh that's a concussion. Now she gets up, re-adjusts her headband, looks around and keep playing. It's like, what did that just happen?" Green said.

Now, he is leading a charge to change the rules of the game.

He has reached out to the UIL to add headgear to the uniforms of Texas high school soccer players.

Doctors said they see more concussions in young soccer players than anyone else.

The majority of the injuries happens when two players knock heads when they're trying to head the ball, according to Dr. Chad Stephens, a sports medicine doctor at Noble Pain Management in Southlake.

"I don't know why anybody would not want to wear a headband if they're playing 7 on 7 football or ladies soccer," Dr. Stephens said. "It'll probably take root into cheerleading and other high impact sports for girls and boys both."

NBC 5 reached out to the UIL and a spokesperson said they have to follow the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The NFHS told NBC 5 they had no plans to require headgear because they have not been presented with information that it prevents concussions.

Green said he has the proof he needs.

"They're required to wear helmets in football. They're required to wear helmets in baseball. Girls are required to wear shinguards. Why aren't we requiring them to wear headgear?"

National Federation of State High School Associations said right now it's up to the player whether he or she wants to wear one.

The headbands are available at most sporting good stores at an average price of about 50 bucks.

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