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UT Arlington professor chosen for national youth sport safety pilot program

Monday, September 15, 2014

Media Contact: Traci Peterson

News Topics: community service, health and fitness, medicine, nursing, recreation, sports

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A University of Texas at Arlington kinesiology professor is one of six certified athletic trainers selected at universities across the U.S. to coordinate a new youth sports safety program from the MomsTEAM Institute, a leading youth sports health and safety think tank and watchdog group.

Cindy Trowbridge

Trowbridge

Cindy Trowbridge, who is also clinical education coordinator in the Athletic Training Education Program at UT Arlington, will work with the Grand Prairie Youth Football Association to implement a pilot of MomsTEAM’s innovative SmartTeam program. SmartTeam includes a combination of parent, coach and player education efforts and equipment upgrades. Trowbridge also will discuss her involvement in the pilot program at MomsTEAM’s SmartTeams Play Safe Summit at Harvard Medical School Monday, Sept. 15.

“We want our youngest and most vulnerable to be safest, but oftentimes the youngest are being coached by the people with the least experience,” Trowbridge said. “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 an approach to sports injury and concussion risk management that is based on MomsTEAM’s work with a high school football program in rural Oklahoma. MomsTEAM was able to use what is called the Six Pillar approach to reduce concussion rates and improve identification and management of concussions. The work is chronicled in a new PBS documentary set to debut in October called “The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer.”

The SmartTeams program is set to roll out nationally in 2015. SmartTeam status will be awarded to youth sports organizations, nominated by parents, which have demonstrated a commitment to minimizing the risk of physical, psychological and sexual injury to young athletes.

Pilot programs are starting this fall in Texas, Michigan, South Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

“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,” said Brooke de Lench, executive director of MomsTEAM. 

Among the best practices the SmartTeam pilot program will implement are:

  • Sport-related concussion best practices
  • Injury prevention strategies in youth sports
  • Reducing injury risk in youth football
  • Cognitive rest and return to learn
  • Bullying, emotional and psychological injury prevention
  • Preventing sexual abuse of youth athletes
  • Role of game officials in injury prevention
  • The “power of the permit” in youth sports safety. (The power of the permit is when a local government has the right and authority to restrict use of its facilities to community sports organizations that adhere to mandated safety protocols.)

De Lench said a goal of the SmartTeams program is to “take a much more positive and pro-active approach by publicizing programs that put safety ahead of winning.”

Ira Carter, president of the Grand Prairie Youth Football Association, said his league, which starts contact play at six years old, has always made safety a priority. Carter said he worries that media portrayals of youth sports leagues haven’t always reflected how seriously coaches like him take safety.

“We don’t want to get rid of football. We love the sport but we also want to make sure it’s safe for our young kids because at seven, eight, nine, they still have their whole lives ahead of them and we don’t want anything to happen to them,” he said. “We just need to play safe and education is the key.”

The team Carter coaches, the Vikings, will be Trowbridge’s focus during the SmartTeams pilot. Already, she has outfitted the team with Brain Sentry helmet-mounted sensors that monitor impacts and help identify players who should be evaluated for concussion. She will soon conduct an initial survey of parents to check their knowledge before the educational component of the program.

Chris Ray, associate dean for research in the UT Arlington College of Nursing, said Trowbridge’s role in the MomsTEAM project is a good example of the way in which university expertise can play a role in improving health at the community and national level. The kinesiology department is part of the College of Nursing.

"Dr. Trowbridge’s selection to oversee the Texas component of the MomsTeam pilot program recognizes UT Arlington’s identity as a national leader in the area of health and gives our university the opportunity to play a role in changing the future of youth sports,” said Ray. “This partnership will ensure that the work that she does with parents, coaches and players will have a far-reaching impact."

About MomsTEAM Institute and MomsTEAM.com

Launched in August 2000, MomsTeam.com has grown over the years, both in terms of content and reputation, to the point that it now has 10,000 + pages of information for youth sports parents and has become the most trusted source of sports parenting information, widely recognized as one of, if not the, top websites of its kind.

MomsTeam Institute, Inc. is a Massachusetts non-profit corporation formed in November 2013 to continue and expand on MomsTEAM’s fourteen-year mission of providing comprehensive, well-researched information to youth sports parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals about all aspects of the youth sports experience.

About UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.