In an effort to raise awareness about and prevent concussions, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is sharing one of the team’s mantras – “don’t hit the head, don’t use the head,” to young football players in the region.
“To encourage safety at all levels of football, particularly in regards to head injury and respecting that element of the game,” said Tomlin, “but also as a parent, one who has a 10 and 11 year old who play football, it’s important for me to be a part of this and use the platform that I have to help our community, in particular our football community at all levels.”
The catch phrase is part of an education and awareness campaign sponsored by the Steelers and UPMC. The ultimate goal can be summed up in three main points.
“Number one is proper tackling technique, and that’s coach Tomlin’s bailiwick,” said Dr. Micky Collins, clinical and executive director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, “number two is safe play and integrity in sportsmanship, which means let’s stay away from the head, and number three is concussion management, which is my bailiwick.”
Each year there are between 1.7 and 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions in the U.S., on average 300,000 of those are football-related. In Pittsburgh, Collins said he sees a large number of football-related concussions, and he’d rather not.
“If anyone followed me for a day in clinic, they’d see we see a lot of problems with this injury out there, in kids especially, different from what we see on the NFL level. High School kids take longer to recover, for many reasons. We can ensure that doesn’t happen if we can get to that point of prevention, and if these words are really followed, I can guarantee you we’re going to prevent a lot of injuries from happening,” said Collins.
In addition to the “don’t hit the head, don’t use the head” mantra, the awareness program will provide a letter from Collins and Coach Tomlin, posters for team locker rooms, and a fact sheet about concussion from UPMC.