Youth Football Concussion Prevention Program Shows Early Signs of Success

By Brian Rog for ATI Physical Therapy

Youth Football Concussion Prevention Program Shows Early Signs of Success

As the play clock winds down, your team takes formation and the center snaps the ball. That unmistakable sound of helmets colliding fills the airwaves. You charge downfield for a pass, then suddenly, your forward progress comes to a screeching halt. You sense an unnerving ringing in your head and a burst of light fills your line of sight. Reality begins to slip away. Minutes later, you awake to find yourself lying motionless on the ground. That once thunderous sound of cheers from the stands has lessened to silence. It’s that moment you sense something isn’t right.

You finally make it to the sidelines trying to make sense of the situation – but to no avail. Regrettably, your team isn’t staffed with an on-site trainer, so the coaching unit, to the best of their abilities, diagnose your condition as just a minor upper body injury. As the days pass, you struggle to concentrate. At times, vertigo has you questioning gravity’s effectiveness. It’s then that you realize these symptoms imply a concussion – though no mention was made of it. You decide to go see a specialist, and just as expected, you suffered a moderate concussion. Fortunately, through modern science and advancements in treatment techniques, providers such as ATI, are equipped with the treatment protocols to safely get individuals back to the demands and activities associated with their lifestyle.

The commonality of situations like this among youth football players is hitting staggering levels, and with participation rates dropping fast, organizations across the country are scrambling to find a solution.

A program tabbed Heads Up Football, which was adopted a few years ago by USA Football is quickly becoming a beacon of hope for players and coaches.

Heads Up Football is a program built on improving training and tackling techniques for coaches and trainers. The program also educates players on concussion awareness and key safety issues. Heads Up training is now used by more than 7,000 youth and high school football programs across the United States, according to USA Football.

To further understand the program’s impact on brain trauma prevention, a team of researchers, led by ATI’s very own clinical research scientist, Ellen Shanley, PhD, PT, OCS, spent months collaborating with USA Football. The group developed a multi-level analysis that would better identify the variances in concussion instances and recovery times. The study measured standard training methods (used by 60% of organizations – according to research) against the Heads Up Training program.

In advance of the 2015 high school football season, USA Football mounted the program by administering Heads Up training to 14 schools (1,818 players) and standard training methods to the remaining 10 schools (696 players). A total of 2,514 students were tracked throughout the season.

To ensure full compliance and proper usage of the training methods/techniques, USA Football officials conducted three random evaluations over the course of the season. Adding to compliance standards, athletic trainers at each participating school were tasked with monitoring and recording injury data from practices and games. For players sustaining concussions, treatment was administered within the same healthcare provider network – to maintain consistency within the data.

Throughout the study, a total of 117 concussions were documented by medical personnel. Of these injuries, players who trained using the Heads Up program sustained 75 concussions (out of 1,818 players) compared with 45 from the non-Heads Up teams (696 players). These injuries represent a concussion rate of 4.1 per 100 players for the Heads Up athletes compared to 6.0 for non-Heads Up athletes.

“The results of our study seem to suggest that possibly less severe concussions were occurring with the Heads Up group which could be a significant hurdle to learning about and preventing concussions in youth football and keeping kids active,” said Shanley. “With this being the first paper to evaluate the impact of this type of training program on the incidence and recovery of concussion, we hope to do additional research with a larger data pool to continue to build insights.”

Research also found that concussed players involved in the Heads Up program returned to action 27 percent faster. To view the official research abstract, click here.

Given the success of this early data set, the Heads Up Football training approach is emerging as a favorable long-term solution to reducing the rate of serious brain injuries. Ellen and team will continue their mission of gathering evidence in support of this impactful training program.

If you or someone you know has recently experienced a head injury, get it checked out right away. Stop by an ATI clinic near you or schedule a complimentary screening at ATI Physical Therapy today!

Loosen Up Tight Quads With a Yoga Sequence

Loosen Up Tight Quads With a Yoga Sequence

Everyone holds stress and tension in different parts of their body, but the quadriceps can be a tricky situation for active people. While everyone will appreciate this sequence, runners and cycling enthusiasts will definitely feel the heat and benefit from spending time in these yoga postures. Get ready to loosen up, and show your quads the love they deserve with this sequence.

Hero PoseDownward Facing DogWarrior 1 Pose

Warrior 2 PoseReverse Warrior PoseFierce Pose

Double Pigeon PoseBow PoseDownward Facing Dog

Kneeling Quad StretchWide Child's Pose

By Lizzie Fuhr for

Alternative Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Repairs

Dr. Brian Cole’s presentation on patient satisfaction and managing expectations delivered at the 2017 Chicago Sports Medicine Symposium.

Practice Expertise | Make an Appointment

Platform Tennis Injuries; Understanding Cryotherapy; Muscle Activation Techniques

Episode 17.32 Rerun

Segment One (01:30): Dr. Leda Ghannad from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush discusses platform tennis injuries.IMG_0854.JPG

The first-ever national study of platform (paddle) tennis injuriesrevealed 66 percent of paddle tennis players say they sustained an injury from playing the game. The study also found that of the platform tennis players reporting an injury, more than half sustained two or more.

The most common conditions reported were injuries to the shin/calf (21%), knee (16%), elbow (16%), ankle (13%) and shoulder (10%). Sixty percent of the injuries were caused by overuse and 40 percent were due to an incident that occurred during play. The study, which involved an online survey of American Platform Tennis Association players nationwide, was coordinated by Dr. Leda Ghannad, a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, with approval from the internal review board at Rush University Medical Center. More than 1,000 players responded to the survey.

“We knew it was a high-injury sport based on the number of paddle patients we treat,” admits Dr. Ghannad. “But until now, there wasn’t any research that proved this. Paddle tennis requires a mixture of speed, agility and quick bursts of energy, which makes athletes more susceptible to getting hurt. Many players are also middle-aged ‘weekend warriors’ who don’t strengthen or stretch their muscles and ligaments in between games or practices.”

Paddle tennis is similar to tennis but is played outside in the winter on a small, elevated court surrounded by a screen. Courts are heated from underneath to clear snow and ice. Most participants are between the ages of 40 and 65.

Segment Two (10:25): What is Cryotherapy? Uses and application of ice vs heat by Matt Gauthier from Athletico Physical Therapy.

The most long-standing and common form of “cryotherapy” is the application of ice or cold packs to injuries to cause blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow and alleviates pain, swelling and inflammation. While there is still some debate over the longer-term effects on healing, such localized (i.e., applied to specific part of the body) “cryotherapy” certainly seems to have clear short-term benefits and has long been standard practice among health professionals. 

Unlike localized cryotherapy, whole body cryotherapy consists of exposing the entire body to very low (subzero) temperatures, sometimes below -200 degrees Fahrenheit, for a few minutes (typically between 2 and 4 minutes). Often, the person will stand in a tank or closet-like device, wear minimal clothing and be bathed in liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air…like taking the ultimate cold shower.

Segment Three (21:42): Skip Chapman from Fitness Formula Club discusses Muscle Activation Techniques. In recent years, a revolutionary new process has evolved for identifying and correcting muscular imbalances in the body known as Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT). This exciting and unique system can dramatically improve joint stability, increase range of motion, reduce subjective complaints, and enhance overall function and performance for individuals of all ages and present abilities.

MAT™ looks at muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help stabilize the joints. MAT™ gets to the root of the complaint or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. This helps to restore normal body alignment, thereby, improving performance and decreasing subjective complaints.

If you are an athlete, fitness enthusiast, or rehabilitation patient who is:

  • Seriously concerned about joint health as you ageFitness Formula Clubs
  • Hesitant to exercise as hard as you want due to chronic injury and pain
  • Confused about how best to stop joint pain when working out
  • Worried about chronic aches and pains post workout
  • Stiff and inflexible and stretching is not working
  • Tired of nagging injuries preventing your fitness progress

3D Animation on Torn ACL Procedures


The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that are crucial to the stability of your knee. It is a strong fibrous tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. A partial or complete tear of your ACL will cause your knee to become less stable and feel as though your knee is about to give out. The following videos will describe the different options available to repair or replace your torn ACL.

Visit  our Patient Education page for the full Library of 50 specific Orthopedic Surgical Procedures in 3D Animation. Produced by an experienced team of medical writers, 3D BCMD whiteanimators, and project managers with a detailed understanding of anatomy and surgery; they take complex surgical procedures and animate the steps to tell a visually stunning story in 3D that is both educational and entertaining. Each animation is embedded with an illustrated script which can be shared, viewed or printed separately.