The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI deft with sports concussions


By Kayli Reese

[email protected]

Concussions have been a huge part of the sporting world since the 1990s, and the University of Iowa is no stranger to the discussion.

However, the UI may be ahead of other colleges and national data trends when it comes to taking care of concussed athletes, said UI Clinical Associate Professor Andrew Peterson, a sports-medicine specialist for the UI Sports Medicine Clinic.

At the Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting earlier this month, Peterson described concussion data.

He said Hawkeye athletes reported only 11 concussions in the last year, with only two or three of those being football team members. Having so few concussions on a football team is extremely different from the norm, he noted.

Peterson also said at the meeting that there are 1.02 concussions for every 1,000 times athletes compete in either practice or a game, giving the university the lowest concussion rates in the Big Ten and Ivy League schools surveyed.

“Our athletes and coaches have a great culture around concussion,” he wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Nationally, the research would indicate that athletes are still a bit reluctant to report symptoms and frequently go back to the sport too quickly,” he said.

UI Clinical Professor Timothy Thomsen, a sports-medicine specialist at the Sports Medicine Clinic, said the university’s low concussion rate can be attributed to a great culture of awareness and treatment.

I have never observed any pressure from coaches to bring athletes back faster than necessary,” Thomsen said.

Other universities, he said, may have higher rates of concussions because of a “win at all costs” attitude, but the Hawkeye coaches understand their athletes are people, too, and need to be safe.

There is lots of education on the topic at the UI, Thomsen said. If everyone fully understands the severity of concussions, he said, it takes away lots of questions from athletes and coaches.

The university is also always looking at concussion-testing developments, he said. There’s no current test that determines if an athlete definitely has a concussion, Thomsen said, but the university keeps an eye out for tests that seem to work well. Also, he said new equipment for athletes, including football helmets, are developing to better protect players against the risk of concussion.

At a previous media meeting, Hawkeye defensive coordinator Phil Parker said he understands the severity of concussions — he had many when he played football.

However, he said, risking the chance of a concussion is a part of football, and players should be aware of this risk before stepping on the field. He said he particularly does not agree with targeting penalties that have been created in an attempt to prevent concussions.

Parker said people understand they cannot walk across a busy Chicago street during rush hour; the traffic makes the walk dangerous. This, he said, is similar to football; people should understand football is dangerous.

“It’s a violent game; everybody knows it,” he said. “They sign up for it. I wish everybody would kind of look over that.”

Following a Hawkeye football game in September, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said at a press conference that while he sees the importance of the targeting penalty to protect players, he worries about how often the penalty might be called.

“It’s one of those things that’s really tough to coach and tough to officiate,” he said. “I fully understand why the rule is in there. As a coach, I get concerned we will over-officiate that. But the bottom line is, it’s a part of football.”

More to Discover