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Pop Warner Forms Inaugural Medical Advisory Board

Proactive steps aim to heighten concussion awareness and enforce player safety

LANGHORNE, Pa. – In addition to its more stringent return to play concussion rules, which have been in place for the 2010 season, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., the nation’s largest and oldest youth football, cheer and dance organization, today formally announced the formation of the inaugural Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board.

Members of the board have been serving in an advisory capacity throughout the season addressing issues concerning players’ health and safety, including concussions, hydration and proper nutrition.

The first Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board was created to ensure Pop Warner remains proactive on all medical issues that affect youth sports, particularly football and cheerleading, with a primary focus on prevention and proper identification and treatment of concussions, hydration awareness, proper nutrition guidelines, and general health and safety issues.

Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board is led by physicians with expertise in neuromedicine and sports safety:

  1. Chairman - Julian Bailes, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine, and director of the Second Opinion Network of the National Football League Players Association
  2. Stanley Herring, MD, medical director of spine care at the University of Washington, team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners, and co-medical director for the Seattle Sports Concussion Program
  3. Lawrence Lemak, MD, founder of Lemak Sports Medicine, The Alabama Sports Foundation and the National Center for Sports Safety, and medical advisor for USA Football
  4. Arthur Day, MD, professor of surgery and vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Pop Warner concussion rules echo the National Football League and USA Football’s concussion safety and awareness principles, including “when in doubt, sit them out,” but specifically maintain that the return to play decision must be made by licensed medical officials, as opposed to parents or guardians, in alignment with the Lystedt Law in Washington State.

Any participant removed from practice, play or competition due to a head injury or suspected concussion may only return to the field once he or she has received written clearance from a licensed medical professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.

“The health and safety of our players has always been Pop Warner’s top priority,” said Jon Butler, Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “We felt it was important that Pop Warner update its rule book to reflect the most safety-conscious and comprehensive approach to concussion prevention. Our new Medical Advisory Board will ensure that Pop Warner continues to be acutely aware of, and able to appropriately respond to new health and safety issues and medical information that may have an effect on our participants.”