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Conn. program may study high school sports injuries

The Connecticut General Assembly?s Public Health Committee wants to create a two-year pilot program to study injuries of high school athletes.

?There are about two million national high school students who suffer sports injuries every year,? said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. ?The experts that look at that kind of data, they tell us that most sports injuries in high school students can be prevented.?

Niehoff supports the committee?s $250,000 plan to gather injury data and analyze it. She said if there is a pattern in the injuries, the Commissioner of Public Health may make new rules for high school athletes.

Members of the Public Health Committee said they hope the findings will prevent harsh injuries, like concussions.

Alfredo Velez, a West Haven High School football player, suffered a series of concussions during his freshman year that ended his athletic career.

?It crushed my dreams because I always wanted to go into the NFL,? Velez said. ?I was in a game against Cheshire I had three force fumbles and a week after that I had a D1 scholarship to Toledo; they offered me the scholarship saying, ?If you continue at this level throughout high school we will give you a full ride.? And I had to let that go due to these injuries.?

He said the concussions had a lasting, negative affect on his body and his school work.

?You get really dizzy and memory loss,? Velez said. ?It is not a good feeling. I remember sometimes I would cry at night just because my head hurts and throw up at random times. Every hit is like a car crash. It could mess you up really badly.?

Under the pilot program, when injuries occur on the field, an athletic trainer would record details like weather conditions, field type and number of players involved. Cheshire High School is one of the 20 schools chosen to be a part of the program.

?Our goal is to keep our athletes playing and not on the sidelines; so anything that we can do if it requires us to monitor and to send data back, then great,? said Steve Trifone, Cheshire High School Athletic Director.

The Public Health Committee approved the program and now a date will be set for the General Assembly to make a final vote.

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