Gearing up for football season, players put on their pads and took the field at MetLife Stadium to run drills. But it was not the players that fans are used to seeing on Sundays in the fall.

While the New York Giants and Jets were off at training camp this summer, AIG Property Casualty’s aHead of the Game program teamed up with USA Football for a four-city Protection Tour to teach young athletes and parents about concussion awareness. The stops on the tour included Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California.

With concussions being a topical issue in sports today, USA Football taught young players proper tackling techniques designed to take the head out of the tackle, and helped them properly fit their helmets and other equipment.

While the players learned the techniques, parents went inside for a seminar led by Dr. Pat Kersey, Medical Director of USA Football and physician at St. Vincent Sports Performance. Dr. Kersey pointed out the early signs of a possible concussion: nausea, headache, dizziness, blurry vision, and, most importantly, if the athlete isn’t acting like themselves.

“The interesting part about a concussion is that it doesn’t come with a label,” Dr. Kersey said. “You don’t see concussions happen, and that’s why looking for the early symptoms is very important.”

During the seminar, Dr. Kersey provided some statistics about youth sports, including:
- Fifteen percent of all sports-related injuries are concussions, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2011.

- Over the past nine years, in youth ages five to 18, there were 2.6 million emergency room visits that were related to concussions.

- Once athletes suffer a concussion, they are three to six times more likely to suffer another.

Nathan LaFayette, Senior Vice President of Accident and Health – Amateur Sports and Entertainment for AIG Property Casualty, who suffered concussions during his playing days in the National Hockey League, believes that getting the message out to young athletes and parents about concussions early is critical.

“I’ve had so many parents come up and just say thank you,” he says. “We put these facts and information on paper so parents could start conditioning to be on top of this. We’re not expecting to change concussions overnight, but over a period of time.”

USA Football hopes to expand the Protection Tour to more U.S. cities in the future.

According to the CDC, in recreational activities alone, wheeled sports (bicycling, skateboarding, moped riding ) are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. Other sports and activities with high rates of concussions include:
- Baseball
- Basketball
- Cheerleading
- Field Hockey
- Football
- Lacrosse
- Softball
- Volleyball
- Wrestling