Southern California

Concussions: What You Need to Know

What to Know

  • High school football participation rates are dropping due to fears over concussions.
  • The fears are being met with innovative testing and technology.
  • USC researchers are studying ways to stop concussions on the field using a machine that simulates a head-on hit, at various angles.

The CIF lists symptoms of concussions and what you need to know here.

Athletes are encouraged to rate how they are feeling with this checklist.

In California, an athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury during play must be removed immediately from athletic activity and evaluated by a doctor or health care provider.

State law says getting back to competition cannot be sooner than seven days after an evaluation. An athlete needs written clearance and must complete this return to play protocol.


High school football season is kicking off, but there are fewer players this year than ever before.

Parents say it's because of the risk of concussions. Fears about concussions are being met with innovative testing and technology happening in Southern California to revolutionize helmets, and keep our kids safe.

New data in California shows high school football participation is down 3 percent over the past year and 8 percent over the past five years, according to estimates by the California Interscholastic Federation.

Many blame concussions.

"I think that people are getting conscious," said Steve Levitt, of Los Angeles. "I think parents are getting conscious. Why send your kid into something that may bring them some pleasure, but why would you hurt a kid's body?"

Researchers at USC are studying new ways to stop concussions on the field using a machine that simulates a head-on hit, at various angles. In the past, helmets were only tested using a drop test from above.

"This particular neck is designed to be more humanlike," said Cynthia Bir, who runs the Biomechanics Injury Research Lab at USC Keck School of Medicine. "So this one is actually from a crash test dummy. As you can see, the neck just totally extends back."

Bir said there are new helmets that have come out in the last two to three years that have amazing advancements. This kind of research has led to new outer shells and interior sensors and pads.

"They absorb some of the energy and the shell actually dissipates it," she said. "Think of those crumple barriers on the side of highways, that is what this padding acts like."

Bir also said that the future will bring even more advancements.

"I think we're going to see if you're a quarterback, you're going to wear this type of a helmet," she said. "If you're a defensive lineman, you're going to wear that type of helmet. So it's going to be position-specific helmets."

Here are concussion Symptoms

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