To: DJFL Community
From: DJFL Board of Directors
Re: Player Safety/ Baseline Concussion Testing Offered
We write to update you on initiatives the DJFL is taking to enhance our mission to teach the sport of football to Darien youth in an enjoyable and safe environment.
Track Record of Keeping Players Safe
The DJFL program is designed for and committed to player safety. Our philosophy is simple: create an environment that is designed to prevent injuries from incurring. Our consistently low incidents of concussion and/or player injury is a result of this commitment.
Two specific examples of our framework for delivering a safe football environment for Darien players are our focus on: (i) coach education and training, and (ii) modified tackle program.
Coach Education and Training
All DJFL coaches must be certified in concussion awareness, CPR and first aid training, and football skills education and training. Each coach is required to take and be certified in live and online courses through US Football in each of these areas, and all coaches spend many hours completing these courses and being tested for competencies in these areas before the season starts.
Over the years we have implemented many on-field safety measures to reduce the chances of player injury, including the following:
- All players must complete three days of football skill conditioning before advancing to wearing full pads.
- We limit full contact tackling in practices throughout the season. All of our drills are designed to teach safe tackling techniques. Coaches spend the vast majority of their time teaching skills at half speed and with limited contact to instill the proper techniques for safe play.
- To reduce high speed tackling in live games there are no kickoff returns in grades 3rd through 8th grade. No live punt returns in grade 3rd through 6th grade. A modified, no rush punt return is allowed in 7th and 8th grades.
- Our football league, the Fairfield County Football League (FCFL) has strict rules prohibiting helmet contact in games and our referees are highly focused ensuring safe play. The FCFL also enforces strict weight limits in each grade which limit the relative heavy players to interior line positions (players are weighed before games).
The best measure of the effectiveness of our safety measures is to analyze the number and type of injuries that occur. In 2017, the DJFL had approximately 290 players on 13 teams, which played at total of 114 games and held approximately 420 practices.
In 2017, there were 17 football-related injuries to our 290 players. Of these, four were reported as concussions in games and three were reported as headache/potential concussions in practices.
This is a low ratio of injuries relative to the number of players and the amount of hours spent on the field and it shows the results of our emphasis on safety. The rate of concussions in our football program is lower than other town sports, including soccer.
Our 2017 results are similar to prior year results – we consistently have low concussion and other injury counts. Despite these results, we are constantly looking for ways to continuously improve Darien’s safe football environment, and we have decided to make an investment in the area of injury management.
In 2018 we will introduce two new initiatives which will help us be more proactive in the area of injury management: we will now provide Licensed and Certified Athletic Trainers at all home games and we will provide concussion baseline testing (and post-concussion testing) at our cost.
 Our awareness about concussion prevention and management mirrors the national attention being given to these areas by organizations such as the NCAA and NFL. The NCAA and US Department of Defense recently conducted a comprehensive study of the incidents of concussions. The results of their analysis showed that, between the 2009 and 2014 academic years, the concussion rate per 10,000 athletic exposures in NCAA sports were as follows:
• 6.3 for Women’s Soccer
• 6.7 for Football
• 7.5 for Women’s Hockey
• 7.9 for Men’s Hockey
• 10.9 for Wrestling
PPT’s athletic trainers will be on site for all home games this season offering pre-game injury management and prevention, and will be available to answer any questions coaches, athletes, or parents may have. For any injuries that occur, the trainer will be there to immediately assess the injury, and then PPT will help the families facilitate and communicate with physicians and therapists if needed. PPT will be available to directly assist parents manage any injuries that happen to their children.
New - Concussion Testing
PPT utilizes ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) as one of the resources to help better manage any possible head injuries.
ImPACT is a computerized concussion management tool utilized by medical professionals that allow athletes to take a baseline test prior to the start of the season and then take post-injury tests after sustaining any head injuries. The data from the tests will be used, in conjunction with PPT’s medical team's evaluations, to see where any neuro-cognitive changes may have occurred following an injury. PPT’s Athletic Trainers and physicians will use this data along with their clinical evaluations to better diagnose head injuries as well as to help better understand what areas of the brain may be impaired following a head injury. This is done by comparing the baseline test scores (your child's normal brain function) with post-injury test scores to see where any deficiencies may be.
Your Next Steps
If your child has had baseline screenings done within this year we ask that you forward that information to PPT (contact and email below).
If your child has not had ImPACT testing done this year and you would like your child to be tested please email PPT to schedule an appointment for testing. The testing only takes around 20-30 minutes and will be at DJFL’s cost. PPT will conduct these tests Monday-Friday.
Below is a link for more information on Performance PT as well as ImPACT: