Archie's Message About Sports Safety

As another football season is upon us, there are new, increasingly pressing questions about the safety of the sport and its impact on those who enjoy playing it. These are serious queries, which we must ensure we answer correctly, as parents and grandparents. I love the sport of football, for all the wonderful life lessons it has taught me and what it has given both myself and my family.

There are new strategies to enjoy the benefits that football offers. I’m excited about the emerging initiatives we’re seeing develop at every level of the game, especially for youth football. Some of the greatest minds are figuring out how we do a smarter job of improving the game and the knowledge of those coaches supervising it.

USA Football is working to advance the safety of the game through programs like Heads Up Football and a new pilot approach called Rookie Tackle, which is a step in between flag football and 11-player tackle. Quality, protective equipment is crucial, as is having qualified personnel such as athletic trainers on hand.

That’s why I’m proud to be associated with Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, which provides athletic trainers to Nicholls State University, as well as to area high schools. These expertly trained professionals make the athletic field of competition safer, from immediately responding to emergencies such as concussions, to advising athletes and coaches on proper hydration in our South Louisiana heat.

The science of sports medicine is constantly changing for the better, and that’s why Thibodaux Regional continuously trains its staff through monthly learning opportunities to keep them updated on the best practices and the most cutting-edge techniques. After years of playing at the professional level myself, and now watching my children do the same, I value well trained medical personnel who can accurately diagnose a problem and keep it from escalating. Preparing athletic trainers to be ready to respond to any situation quickly and accurately is an integral part of Thibodaux Regional’s commitment to safety. The Bayou Region is lucky to have Thibodaux Regional’s athletic trainers working out in our community with our youth.

Perhaps you are wondering what you as parents and grandparents can do to personally prepare and protect your young loved ones who relish competing on the gridiron? My advice is to arm yourself with knowledge and concrete data in case a head injury presents itself. The Sports Medicine Center of Thibodaux Regional offers baseline concussion testing for our area athletes, just as professional teams do at the NFL level.

Thibodaux Regional uses the NeuroCom Balance Assessment System, which helps young athletes return to the field of competition as quickly as possible, as safely as possible. A baseline test empowers you and your doctors by providing reference data on the athlete’s balance capabilities before a head injury occurs. This “before” data is knowledge that’s vital to determining when someone’s brain is healed enough to safely return to the field of play after a head injury occurs. By getting a baseline balance assessment, you’re taking the guess work out of determining when it’s safe for them to return to normal activity post injury. Research shows sustaining a second head injury before an initial injury fully heals can wreak long term damage on a brain. If you’d like more information, just contact the Sports Medicine Center of Thibodaux Regional and certified, licensed athletic trainer Amelia Castell at 985-493-4502. The test is inexpensive and easy, yet invaluable if needed.
My friend Larry D’Antoni does an awesome job as coordinator of Thibodaux Regional’s Sports Medicine Center. I have known Larry for many years, as an athletic trainer with the New Orleans Saints and from his work at Thibodaux Regional and with the Manning Passing Academy.

"I am proud to be part of a program that does so much for the youth of our community,” D’Antoni told me. “CEO Greg Stock and Thibodaux Regional have made a commitment to improving the health of the people in this region, and that includes those involved in athletics. We were the first to identify the needs of the athletes and coaches, and began providing outreach athletic training services for many of the schools through the Sports Medicine Center."

Thibodaux Regional’s commitment to wellness doesn’t stop with just the football field though; they take that commitment to the next level by engaging the entire community. One of Thibodaux Regional’s biggest initiatives right now is to educate people from all walks of life and of all ages about the benefits of good health. One way that they have fulfilled that commitment to community health is by hosting several youth camps this summer, and are excited to be the home of multiple high school volleyball events in the next month. The more successful the Wellness Center is at getting people up and moving, the healthier everyone will be, which is a key part of the Center’s mission.

Archie Manning