Proper Technique Prevents Paralyzing Tackles - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/18/07-Gladewater

Proper Technique Prevents Paralyzing Tackles

If it's 3 p.m., it's practice time for the Gladewater Bears.

And as the Bears get ready for Friday Night Football, coaches are making sure they are driving home an important message.

Scott Callaway, athletic director at Gladewater High School, said tackling in football is a constant.  He said reminding players of how they are supposed to tackle, is the best way to keep them safe.

"They always remember, hey, when I'm tackling, I need to keep my head up," he said.

Just over a week ago, Kevin Everett, tight end for the Buffalo Bills and former Kilgore College football player, was temporarily paralyzed trying to make a routine tackle.

And as East Texas Football players take the field, the focus is on preventing those types of injuries.

"Our coaches start teaching the proper technique and how to do it," said Callaway.  "It's one of the first issues you bring up--the position of the head when you're going to make a tackle."

The Gladewater Bears are just a portion of the 1.5 million students playing football in America.

And with more students on the field, there is a greater risk for more injuries.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury, since 1977, there have been at least 269 spinal-cord injuries on the football field.  There were 10 spinal-cord injuries in the past year alone.

"The key for our student athletes is to know the proper technique for tackling," said Dr. Michael Russell, an orthopedic surgeon.

Russell said football can be much safer when players are taught the right way to hit.

"If you extend the neck, then it's got this accordion-like effect," said Russell.  

It acts like a shock absorber, allowing stress to not go straight through the bone, which causes injury.

Instead, it goes through the ligaments, the tissues, and the discs he said.

It's a simple technique, but it's the right technique, which could lead to more wins, and fewer injuries.

Layron Livingston, Reporting llivingston@kltv.com

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