Letters

April 27, 2008

Group would like to be consulted

I agree with the concerns that The Sun's Mike Preston expressed in his column Wednesday ["Game must act: Concussions shouting warning to powers that be"]. But I don't understand why he didn't take the time to contact the sport's Baltimore-based national governing body - US Lacrosse - to get our perspective and, more importantly, learn what is being done to address this concern.

Among other things, US Lacrosse is launching a video surveillance study, in partnership with MedStar SportsHealth, to better understand the mechanism of concussion in high school girls and boys lacrosse.

US Lacrosse also has entered into a strategic alliance with ImPACT, one of the world's leading authorities on concussion management and neurocognitive baseline testing, to provide greater resources to the national lacrosse community. And US Lacrosse has established the sport's first standardized education curricula and certification programs for coaches and officials.

I'm sure it can be challenging to bang out a daily column, but it doesn't take much time to pick up the phone to call a definitive resource that happens to be right up the street.

Steve Stenersen

Baltimore Editor's note: The writer is president and chief executive of US Lacrosse.

Much being done to make lacrosse safer

First and foremost, we want to thank Mike Preston for bringing attention to the seriousness of concussions in lacrosse.

We understand his frustrations regarding this issue, but it's important to note that great strides are being made to enhance the game's safety.

US Lacrosse has been working tirelessly to proactively curb the number of injuries in the game, including concussions. US Lacrosse's Sports Science and Safety Committee, in conjunction with MedStar SportsHealth, devotes time, manpower and resources to ensure the safety of all players on the field. Here are just a few recent landmark developments:

In 2007, US Lacrosse and ImPACT launched a formal concussion-management program that offers concussion testing, education, awareness and state-of-the-art standards of care.

In February, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment awarded a $328,000 grant to study concussions in lacrosse. The grant will support a joint research initiative between MedStar Research Institute, George Mason University, Fairfax County Public Schools and US Lacrosse to study the mechanisms of concussion and the game situations that may result in a concussion within boys and girls high school lacrosse games.

Next season, MedStar will conduct research on injury types and mechanisms in youth lacrosse. The injury surveillance project is the first of its kind.

US Lacrosse offers an extensive education and training program for coaches and officials. Coaches learn how to encourage safe play and implement positive coaching. US Lacrosse works hand-in-hand with the Positive Coaching Alliance to stress the values of the game and sportsmanship. Officials, through the curriculum, learn how to maintain control of the game and enforce safe play.

Dr. Andrew Lincoln and Dr. Richard Hinton

Baltimore Editor's note: Lincoln is director of the Orthopedic and Sports Health Research Program at MedStar Research Institute. Hinton is director of Union Memorial Sports Medicine Fellowship and assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

High school bill seeks inclusion

Milton Kent's April 15 article ["Bill went too far: Competition between disabled, able-bodied bad possibility"] represents a fundamental misunderstanding about the purpose of the measure.

The essence of The Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act is inclusion. This bill is about ensuring that schools provide opportunities for students with disabilities to be physically active.

First, it requires that schools provide students with disabilities opportunities to participate in physical education, an essential component of school curriculum that should be available to all students, regardless of disability.

Second, as to interscholastic athletics, this bill is about inclusion and allowing all students the opportunity to compete for a spot on a school team. It does not mandate inclusion of students with disabilities when they are not qualified to compete at a varsity level and, in fact, provides for two situations when inclusion is not required: where it fundamentally alters the sport or where it poses a safety risk.

The bill does require inclusion absent these circumstances, meaning that, for example, an excellent swimmer, who happens to be an amputee, should be allowed to compete for a spot on the varsity swim team.

We have to remember that physical education and interscholastic athletics are educational programs to which all students must have access.

Terri Lakowski

Bethesda Editor's note: The writer is public policy director of the Women's Sports Foundation.

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