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US Lacrosse Works To Fight Player Concussions

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- With concussions and sports-related head injuries in news, US Lacrosse--based here in Baltimore--is taking a major step to put safety first in youth sports.

Monique Griego has more on their latest move.

US Lacrosse announced Tuesday it's joining the newly-formed National Sports Concussion Coalition. The group's goal is to make sports safer for young players.

Lacrosse--while not usually considered a full contact sport--isn't without its hard hits.

"To increase the safety aspect of it is what we need. Players are getting bigger, they're getting faster, they're getting stronger. I know that the speed of the game has increased," said professional lacrosse player Stephen Berger.

Berger, a professional lacrosse player for the Boston Cannons, is also the men's game director for US Lacrosse in Baltimore. Tuesday, it announced it's joining forces with 15 other organizations to form the National Sports Concussion Coalition, a group focused on reducing concussions and increasing safety in youth sports.

"Parents are concerned, consumers are concerned. What can we do to prevent these types of injuries?" said Ann Kitt Carpenetti.

The coalition, which includes the NFL, Pop Warner and Youth Soccer, will share best practices, research and other data.

US Lacrosse has already implemented its own safety initiatives, which include new rules, better equipment and increased penalties for illegal hits.

"Ten years ago, it was just, 'Oh you got your bell rung; you get hurt but get back in the game.' People didn't understand the long-term implications of a head injury," Carpenetti said.

The end game is to make sure young players learn a smarter way to play.

"To put more emphasis on skill development and safety," Berger said. "It will allow them to be in the game longer."

US Lacrosse has already spent more than half a million dollars looking into the effects of concussions and how to help prevent them.

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