With the 2017 football season just a few weeks away, the United States Sports Academy recently provided concussion prevention education to players from Fairhope High School.

The program addresses the issue of sport-related concussions among young athletes. A study recently published in the medical journal JAMA found 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated for study showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

“Concussion education is very much needed, especially at the youth and high school levels,” said Dr. Brandon Spradley, USSA’s director of sports management. “Much of what we hear about concussions comes from sports media covering the NFL and other professional sports. Sometimes young athletes are forgotten about and neglected.

“Our hope is that this program will educate thousands of young athletes about the signs and symptoms of concussion. Our goal is for young athletes to have the right attitude and mindset towards concussion and improve their behavior and willingness to report concussion symptoms.”

Submitted | Dr. Brandon Spradley, USSA’s director of sports management, teaches a concussion class at Fairhope High School recently.

Over the past year, USSA has worked with the University of South Alabama’s Department of Neurology and the Mobile County Public School System on the Concussion Awareness Program (CAP), funded in part by a grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to South Alabama.

South Alabama and USSA developed procedures for use by the school system to better protect student athletes from the negative health consequences of concussions. First, everyone involved in contact sports programs receives training on concussion awareness and prevention. Second, protocols are put in place to ensure student athletes who receive concussions are not allowed to return to play until approved by medical professionals.

Dr. Vincent K. Ramsey, USSA’s chair of sports exercise science, said a letter of cooperation was recently signed to expand the CAP partnership to all high schools in the Baldwin County Public School System.

With Fairhope’s players, Ramsey and Spradley provided student athletes, coaches, trainers and parents with an online tutorial application to evaluate and build upon their knowledge of concussions. Student athletes are required to complete the tutorial as part of the program.

“Last year, with the NCAA grant, we went to every Mobile County high school and tested every football player through the [CAP],” Ramsey said. “Athletes take a questionnaire, then watch a video with information about concussions and how they would report, then they would take the quiz again.

“The results show a statistically significant improvement in the athletes’ levels of knowledge of concussions, as well as their perception of what a concussion is and what they should do to report it and recover.”

Officials at South Alabama are seeking a $1.6 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to build on the progress already made by CAP. They hope to expand the program to a wider geographical area, as well as serve younger athletes. USSA would provide the educational component of the concussion prevention program as a subrecipient of the grant.

Dr. Anthony Martino, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at USA College of Medicine, has practiced neurosurgery for 25 years. He is CAP’s principal investigator along with Dr. Ashley Marass, an assistant professor in USA’s College of Nursing, and Ramsey. Spradley, as well as USA Professor Dr. Benjamin Hill and Mary Wilstrup, USA pediatric clinical nurse, are also involved.

Repeated blows to the head and recurring concussions cause CTE. The disease has been blamed for cognitive and intellectual impairment, mood disorders, depression, drug abuse and suicide attempts. NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau killed himself in 2012, and was found to have CTE.

Along with the CAP program, USSA offers a free online course on sport-related concussions that provides an in-depth review of the risks, prevention, recognition, treatment and management of sport-related concussions. The course is available at www.ussa.edu. For more information, call the Daphne-based university at 251-626-3303.

SHC golfer in U.S. Amateur field
Spring Hill College men’s golf senior Wesley Hunter shot a 3-under par 141 over two rounds in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 17-18 to qualify for the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship. The event will be at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, Aug. 14-20.

“We are very proud that Wesley has achieved this goal that he has worked so hard for,” SHC head coach Steve Hodges said. “He’s done a great job so far and we know he’s going to keep it going in California.”

Hunter, who graduated from St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Mobile, took a red-shirt status and did not compete last season at SHC. However, he shot a 73.19 average with four individual championships during his sophomore and junior campaigns with the Badgers.

1st & 10 Club announces speakers
The 1st & 10 Club will kick off its 18th season with C Spire as the title sponsor on Monday, Aug. 21 at the Mobile Marriott. South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones will speak at 5:30 p.m.

Also on the schedule are ESPN personality and former SEC coach Tommy Tuberville on Sept. 11, University of Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on Oct. 23 and SEC Network personality and former LSU star Booger McFarland on Nov. 6. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, the coaches, athletic directors and players from the Dollar General Bowl will appear.

“Fans around here are passionate about football and we’re excited to be involved and support an organization that is delivering quality sports and entertainment programming in this region,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of marketing for C Spire.

Along with the speakers, the club honors high school scholar students and student-athletes at each meeting. Students are selected from high schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Scholar award winners are eligible for one of several scholarships offered by the Dollar General Bowl. The scholarships will be awarded at the Dollar General Bowl Mayor’s luncheon on Dec. 22.

For more information, visit www.DollarGeneralBowl.com or call 251-635-0011.