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Playing Smart

Professor researches ways to protect children from concussions

children playing football

Kinesiology Associate Professor Cindy Trowbridge is one of six certified athletic trainers from U.S. universities selected to coordinate a new program from the MomsTEAM Institute, a leading youth sports health and safety think tank and watchdog group.

Dr. Trowbridge, the clinical education coordinator in UT Arlington’s Athletic Training Education Program, is working with the Grand Prairie Youth Football Association to implement a pilot of MomsTEAM’s innovative SmartTeam program. SmartTeam features a combination of parent, coach, and player education efforts and equipment upgrades to minimize sports injuries and concussions.

“We want our youngest and most vulnerable to be safest, but often the youngest are being coached by the people with the least experience,” Trowbridge says. “This notion of creating a national program where a youth team sports program could work toward being designated as a SmartTeam is a great way to address that knowledge gap.”

SmartTeam is based on MomsTEAM’s work with a high school football program in rural Oklahoma and is chronicled in the recent PBS documentary The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer.

Pilot programs began last fall with a national rollout set for this year. SmartTeam status will be awarded to youth sports organizations, nominated by parents, that have demonstrated a commitment to minimizing the risk of physical, psychological, and sexual injury to young athletes.

Adds Brooke de Lench, executive director of MomsTEAM: “The purpose of the SmartTeam pilot program is to demonstrate to parents, coaches, administrators, and health care professionals that there are steps we can take now to make youth sports safer.”

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