Winston-Salem football safety researchers applaud NCAA deal with former players

A group in Winston-Salem that focuses on football player safety is encouraged by a deal announced Tuesday regarding head trauma and National Collegiate Athletics Association.

The $70 million dollar settlement between college athletics governing body and a group of former players would establish a fund to allow all former college athletes to get tested for brain trauma. It would also require future athletes to undergo testing before play begins so there is a baseline from which to compare injuries. Full contact practices would be limited under the agreement. Also, there would be a uniform rule for colleges and universities that would require athletes to be pulled from a game or practices once they’ve suffered a concussion.

“That’s all good stuff, positive news to make football as safe as it can possibly be,” said Robert Gfeller, executive director of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma.

The group is one of the funding sources for a comprehensive look at head trauma in young football players being conducted right now by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Joel Stitzel is a biomedical engineering professor who helps head the program. Stitzel has met with NCAA sports safety leaders about the work being done at Wake Forest. He said with the National Football League and now the NCAA focusing on player safety it serves as a good role model for player safety at lower levels of play.

“That’s where we’d like to see more of the emphasis moving forward is on the younger players,” said Stitzel. “These are kids that are six years old and up to 16.”