US Lacrosse Meeting Women's Lacrosse Injuries Head-On
The eyeballs on women's lacrosse will reach an annual crescendo with this weekend's US Lacrosse National Tournament and NCAA Division I semifinals and finals, all in Stony Brook, N.Y. It's a great time of year to be involved in the game, as many casual sports fans will tune in or see highlights of the best women's lacrosse has to offer.
But with the increased eyeballs on women's lacrosse, it's also an important time to highlight what US Lacrosse is doing in the area of player safety — a hot topic across all sports these days. The hottest of all topics is concussions — their causes, effects and recovery from. It seems you can't turn on ESPN these days without catching at least some update or comment regarding concussions in the NFL, which, because of the nature of the game and its popularity, lends itself to obvious scrutiny.
Growing sports like women's or girls' lacrosse are not immune from such scrutiny, nor should we, as a community, be. As you watch women's lacrosse this weekend or digest media accounts, keep some things in mind if the topic turns to head injuries and headgear.
- US Lacrosse is committed to player safety. Our members and donors continue to fund the injury research projects of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee, to the tune of over $100,000 scheduled for 2012 alone.
- Current injury data tells us that women's lacrosse is a relatively safe sport, with sprains to the ankles and knees, occurring without player-to-player contact, being the most common. Concussions in women's lacrosse happen at about the same rate as in women's soccer and women's ice hockey. Stick-to-head contact is the leading cause of concussions in women's lacrosse.
- There'll be about 45 minutes between the end of the Florida-Syracuse semifinal and the start of Maryland-Northwestern Friday, more than enough time to check out "Head Protection in Women's Lacrosse," a US Lacrosse-hosted webinar available on the organization's safety page or YouTube channel USLacrosse8. It's an informative presentation that delves into where we've been and where we're going on the topics of head injuries and headgear in women's lacrosse — with better justice than what you may see in other media.
- The webinar was produced May 2. Since then, several members of the US Lacrosse staff and leadership joined approximately 65 stakeholders at the first meeting of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) women's lacrosse headgear standard work group May 9 in Phoenix. The participants included leaders in the women's lacrosse community, coaches, umpires, administrators, doctors, sports medicine specialists, lacrosse equipment manufacturers, engineers, researchers and other testing officials. In layman's terms, the goal of this group is to research and develop a headgear standard unique to women's lacrosse. As many of you know, current rules allow players to wear soft headgear, but the rules lack further guidance and specifications on products. So claims that a current piece of head equipment offers protection to players are, in a word, unfounded. This project will take time, but getting key stakeholders in the women's game in the same room was an important step.
- Scientific data will constitute the backbone of any construction of a future women's lacrosse-specific piece of headgear, and a healthy portion of that data will come from a research project conducted by Dr. Trey Crisco, a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee and the director of the bioengineering laboratory at the Brown University Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital. With funding from both US Lacrosse and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), Dr. Crisco is researching the impact of women's lacrosse sticks on moving head forms (models). His project will be complete in several months.
- Dr. Andy Lincoln, a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee and the MedStar Research Institute, is re-examining video footage of previous US Lacrosse youth events for the purposes of determining, when a stick-to-head incident occurred in a girls' game, what part of the stick (shaft or head) came into contact with the player's head. Discussion in Phoenix included the possibility of manufacturers adding some type of foam or padding to the part of the stick where the shaft meets the head.
- ASTM agreed to establish four working groups as part of its women's lacrosse research efforts: headgear (previously established), ball, stick, and eyewear. Each working group will investigate adjustments to make that could further reduce the quantity or severity of head injuries in women's lacrosse.
As you can see, there's a lot going on, and I wouldn't even call this list all-inclusive. With the offseason on the horizon, take some time each day to read one of the many offerings at uslacrosse.org/concussionawareness, and share that with your teammates, coaches and parents. As in any enterprise, being an educated consumer is a big part of a rewarding experience.