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Pediatricians Recommend Tougher Enforcement of Rules to Make Youth Football Safer

football blogThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made new recommendations around the issue of tackling in youth football intended to improve player safety. Better enforcement of the rules governing illegal headfirst hits tops the list.


Dr. Shane Miller, a pediatrician specializing in treating sports-related injuries including concussions at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Sports Medicine Center in Plano, agrees with the AAP recommendations, which were based on a number of scientific research studies.


According to the AAP, “The head and neck sustain a relatively small proportion of overall injuries but are usually involved when injuries are severe and are often the result of illegal tackling techniques such as spear tackling, which is when a player leads with the head. Research has shown that tackling or being tackled accounted for half of all football injuries among high school players.”


The AAP policy statement recommends:

  1. Ensuring proper enforcement of the rules, including on illegal headfirst hits that are now tolerated. They recommend zero tolerance and stronger sanctions, including expulsion from the game. “I am very much in favor of this,” Dr. Miller says, “and support even more significant penalties, including season-long expulsion for repeat offenders. We must make the game safer.”
  2. Considering removing tackling altogether while acknowledging it would fundamentally change the game. Participants must decide whether the benefits of playing are worth the risk, the AAP says.
  3. Expanding non-tackling leagues. Dr. Miller agrees, “It would be great to allow families the choice. Currently, there are not many options for kids once they are in middle school or high school.” However, he warns that more studies are needed to show that flag football is safer. Some research indicates it also has high injury rates.
  4. Limiting impact to the head. “Coaches need to focus on proper tackling and hitting techniques and limit contact in practice,” according to Dr. Miller, who cited USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling techniques as a model.
  5. Delaying the age at which tackling is permitted. “There is not agreement on a minimum age,” Dr. Miller says. “Some have proposed 14 years, but there is concern about waiting until they have gone through puberty and are bigger, stronger and faster before they learn to start hitting each other. I support teaching proper tackling, but this depends on the coaches’ backgrounds. Rather than certified coaches, many times youth football leagues are being coached by well-meaning parents who may not have any background or training in proper hitting and tackling techniques.”
  6. Strengthening neck muscles of young athletes to reduce the risk of concussions and other injuries. Dr. Miller uses the ‘bobble head doll’ analogy to describe a young football player with a helmet on. “Neck strengthening intuitively makes sense, is inexpensive, easy to do and can’t hurt!”
  7. Having athletic trainers at organized games and practices. “Athletic trainers are able to respond to concussions as well as any other injury or medical emergency that may arise on the field,” according to Dr. Miller, team physician for several area high schools. “I am a strong supporter of athletic trainers and their presence at sporting events. This also allows the coaches to focus on coaching, takes the decision-making process out of the coach’s hands and allows a trained medical professional to determine when an athlete can return to play.”

To learn more about youth sports concussions, take a look at our online info or PDF on sports concussions.

The Gold Standard: Celebrating 50 Years of Pioneering Dyslexia Care

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.02.00 AMFifty years ago, a man with an unwavering conviction to help children joined TSRHC’S staff. His name was Lucius ‘Luke’ Waites, Jr., M.D., and his pioneering work changed the world of learning disorders forever.

In 1924, Lucius Waites, Jr. was born in Hattiesburg, Miss., during a formative time in the study of learning disorders, such as dyslexia. The condition is characterized by a difficulty connecting letter symbols to sounds. It makes reading challenging and affects roughly 10 percent of all public school children.

For a child with dyslexia, the world can be a daunting place. Feelings of failure or isolation can
often accompany the condition. Little did anyone know that one day Waites would not only study dyslexia, but he would also help define it and ultimately change perceptions, treatment approaches, education, legislation and the lives of countless children in the process.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.01.15 AMWhile playing football for Ole Miss, Waites gained a reputation for being a fierce competitor, playing in the era of no protective facemasks. That fearless spirit and drive to succeed would serve him well throughout his career. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1947 and began his work as a neurologist. He came to Dallas in 1961 to join the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. From 1961-65, he also assisted the TSRHC medical staff in the area of neurology.

During that period, Waites began to investigate the phenomenon of smart children who struggled to read. This condition was initially described as “word blindness” and “twisted symbols” (aka: Strephosymbolia). Research into this condition was considered fringe medicine at the time and often mocked as “quackery,” but the determined football player from Mississippi refused to give up. Then Scottish Rite Hospital Chief of Staff Brandon Carrell, M.D., observed the positive effect Waites’ methods were having on his patients and stood by his efforts. In 1965, Waites moved to TSRHC full time and the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders was born. With the support of TSRHC and the Masonic community, Waites set out to build a program dedicated to diagnosing and treating children with the condition. Along with language therapist Aylett Royall Cox, Waites developed the hospital’s first dyslexia curriculum called Alphabetic Phonics. This new approach, with its dramatic and positive results, made waves in Dallas, across Texas and beyond.

Gladys Kolenovsky, administrative director of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders, with TSRHC Chairman of the Board Lyndon L. Olson, Jr.

“The support of the hospital, the administration and the board of trustees continues to be strong and crucial to our work,” says Gladys Kolenovsky, the center’s administrative director and a 39-year staff member. “From the beginning, they believed in what this center could do for children.”

In 1968, Waites organized a meeting of the World Federation of Neurology at the hospital, at which the medical term “developmental dyslexia” was defined. For the first time, dyslexia was recognized as a medical condition that called for an educational treatment.

But Waites did not stop there. In 1985, he enlisted the help of two equally tenacious colleagues — Kolenovsky and Geraldine ‘Tincy’ Miller, a former staff member who has gone on to serve more than 26 years on the Texas State Board of Education. Together, they facilitated two major changes in Texas education laws — separating dyslexia from special education programs and requiring dyslexia screening and testing in all public schools. As a result of their efforts, Texas became a leader in public policy for learning disorders.

“Because of this incredible group of individuals who were willing to take a chance, so many people are able to stand on the shoulders of their legacy and their bravery,” says Karen Avrit, the center’s educational director, who recently helped pass House Bill 866. This bill ensures that all undergraduate education majors in Texas learn how to recognize, identify and make basic accommodations for children in their classrooms who may be dyslexic.

Lucius “Luke” Waites, Jr., M.D., and Jeffrey Black, M.D., medical director of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders

In 1990, Jeffrey, Black, M.D., joined the TSRHC medical staff and the crusade, alongside Waites. Where Waites drew from clinical knowledge and child-focused intuition, Black revels in the scientific process. He set a high bar for data collection, results-driven experimentation and extensive research.

Black used precise, quantifiable measurements to prove that dyslexia could be remediated. From there, he proceeded to improve and adjust the existing curriculum based on his findings. It was through his unflinching dedication to data analysis that a new curriculum, Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia, was developed.

The curriculum allows children to learn the course material faster, with a higher retention rate. The first edition was printed in 2006. Today, Take Flight is used across America, in Canada an as far away as Dubai. The morning Avrit got a call from the Middle East inquiring about the program, she recalls saying, “Wow, we’ve gone international!”

The future of Take Flight looks bright, as Black and the team embark on the next journey in dyslexia education. Together with The University of Texas at Dallas, they are taking the curriculum into the digital arena. Through interactive technology, they will share the program with the next generation of children as well as increase its reach and scope for teachers.

Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders staff who have each served the department for 20 years or more: Back row, L to R: Vennecia Jackson, M.D., Lynne Reynolds, Karen Avrit, Sue Jones and Karen Yerger Front row, L to R: Gladys Kolenovsky, Jeffrey Black, M.D., and Veda Childs

Black is also pushing dyslexia research into the world of genetics. In collaboration with Jerry Ring, Ph.D., the center’s research scientist, and TSRHC’s remarkable genetics research team, work is being conducted to better understand dyslexia on a genetic level.

In 2013, the strong-willed Waites passed away at the age of 89, leaving behind a legacy that has changed the lives of individuals with dyslexia forever.

“It is wonderful to recognize Luke Waite’s legacy, while also paying tribute to the core values of the dyslexia department and the hospital,” Kolenovsky says. “The child comes first – always.”

**This article appeared on the cover of our Rite Up 2015: Issue 3 magazine. 

Trick or Treat? No — Truck or Treat!

Halloween’s arrival brings jack-o’-lanterns, spider webs, and more spooky fun, but the arrival of Halloween also means the time has come for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children’s annual Truck or Treat event. Hosted by the hospital’s Crayon Club, Truck or Treat brings together some of Halloween’s beloved traditions — plus a few more attractions.


Forget the Tricks, Enjoy Some Treats

Truck or Treat will take place at TSRHC’s Jas. F. Chambers, Jr. Youth Fitness Park on Tuesday, October 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Crayon Club invites you to join the festivities, which will include pumpkin decorating, lawn games and live musical entertainment by Larson & the Law. Guests can munch on sandwiches, sliders and quesadillas from The Butcher’s Son food truck and custard from Super Chix.

During Truck or Treat, attendees can also take a guided tour of the hospital and hear testimonials from two current staff members to learn how TSRHC helps children with orthopedic and neurological disorders.

Staff Joanna Pool, Andrea Brown

TSRHC Staff Joanna Pool and Andrea Brown will be speaking about their experiences working at TSRHC.

Support a Good Cause for the Community

Even if you are not a member of Crayon Club, individuals dedicated to improving the lives of children can find community at Truck or Treat and network with like-minded people.

If you want to attend the event, you can buy tickets in advance at tsrhc.org/truckortreat for $20 if you’re a Crayon Club member or $25 for non-members. Ticket price will increase at the door. Invite your friends, colleagues, and family members to join you in support of this important children’s resource in the Dallas community.

All proceeds from the Truck or Treat event will benefit TSRHC and its care services for patients and pumpkins decorated will be given to the patients for Halloween. Since the hospital treats children regardless of the family’s ability to pay, proceeds from events like Truck or Treat help ensure that no families are denied quality medical care for their children.


Learn About Crayon Club

Crayon Club is an organization founded through TSRHC that unites young professionals who want to make a difference in children’s lives. The organization focuses on three goals: education, philanthropy, and volunteerism. Members are heavily involved in the community as well as TSRHC’s community and outreach endeavors.

If you’re interested in joining Crayon Club, visit tsrhc.org/crayonclub for more information or to purchase tickets for Truck or Treat.

North Texas Giving Day is Thursday, September 17

Keep Calm and Give On for North Texas Giving Day! For one day only, a portion of your gift of $25 or more given to TSRHC online at https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/#npo/texas-scottish-rite-hospital-for-children will earn bonus funds.

NTX Giving Day Eblast - PreEvent -FB 2About North Texas Giving Day

North Texas Giving Day is an online giving event that provides nonprofits the opportunity to gain exposure to — and start relationships with — new donors, and for people in North Texas to come together to raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits. In just six years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $86 million into the North Texas community. In 2014, more than 98,000 gifts totaling $26.3 million benefited 1,580 nonprofits.

North Texas’ incredible generosity has broken the national record 3 years in a row! After last year’s national record-crushing 75,000 donations totaling $26.3 million, North Texas Giving Day is back with the hopes that North Texas will raise the giving day bar once again to benefit more North Texas nonprofits.

Join in this year’s effort between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight on Thursday, September 17. Make your online donation to TSRHC here!

Note: Please note that gifts through NTGD may not be used to fulfill pledges or purchase tickets/sponsorships for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children events. All proceeds will go directly where they are needed most…to insuring the health and happiness of our precious patients.

Chipotle is offering 50% of proceeds to TSRHC on Wednesday, June 17

This Wednesday, June 17, Chipotle is offering 50% of their proceeds to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children!

Just go to any Dallas/Fort Worth area Chipotle on Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. with this flyer (either printed or shown on your mobile device) or tell your cashier that you’re supporting Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.

It’s as easy as that! Enjoy your lunch and thank you for dining in support of TSRHC!

For locations, please visit www.chipotle.com.


TSRHC Welcomes New Hand Surgeon Dr. Christopher Stutz

Stutz - Whitecoat copyPediatric orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Christopher M. Stutz has joined the staff of TSRHC, working with the team at the Charles E. Seay, Jr. Hand Center led by Dr. Marybeth Ezaki.

Stutz earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and completed an internship and residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. He was a hand and micro-vascular surgery fellow at Washington University and a congenital hand surgery fellow at TSRHC.

Stutz is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is a member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and a candidate member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Read more about Stutz in his bio. Welcome to Scottish Rite Hospital!!

What If We Could Prevent All Injuries in Youth Sports? – TSRHC Sports Medicine

UntitledParents, youth sports administrators and the sports medical community are working together to reduce injuries in youth sports. So is our team at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Center for Excellence in Sports Medicine. We recently participated in the 6th Annual Youth Sports Safety Summit in Dallas hosted by the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, a division of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Together, more than 100 sports medicine experts from across the country and parents of young athletes talked about myths and challenging topics in sports injury prevention.  Our own Shane Miller, M.D., gave his perspective as a pediatrician with fellowship training in sports medicine.

“To move forward with injury prevention, we must keep working together,” Dr. Miller explains.

How can you help prevent youth sports injuries?

Parents – here’s what you can do now:

  • Take your son or daughter to the primary care provider for required sports physicals.
  • Know your family medical history and answer honestly on physical questionnaires.
  • Encourage your athlete by cheering from the sideline, not coaching.
  • Ask your athlete if he/she wants you to provide critique and suggestions.
  • Encourage good sleep and eating habits.
  • Talk openly about the dangers of consuming energy drinks and supplements.
  • Learn or help develop emergency action plans for teams and venues where kids play sports.

Coaches – here’s what you can do now:

  • Listen to your athlete’s complaints, don’t ignore them.
  • Recognize when an athlete is fatigued. Injury rates increase with fatigue.
  • Communicate with your team’s parents.
  • Encourage good sportsmanship.
  • Teach proper technique and rules, these are known to reduce risk of injury.
  • Promote having fun, this can reduce burnout for coaches and players.
  • Encourage proper hydration in all seasons of training.

Our TSRHC Sports Medicine team is committed to reducing sports injuries for your young athletes and providing you with tools to do the same. Follow us to keep up with the latest in sports injury prevention.


TSRHC Names Ellen Haynes as Vice President, Major Gifts and Corporate Giving

RIC_7797 2Ellen Haynes, formerly director of development at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has been named vice president of major gifts and corporate giving at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC). Haynes brings 18 years of health care fundraising experience to the hospital.

The appointment comes at a time when TSRHC has announced plans to build an ambulatory surgical center in Frisco, the first major satellite operation in the hospital’s 94-year history. “The hospital has a unique opportunity,” said TSRHC President and CEO Robert L. Walker. “As we expand access to care north, bringing on a knowledgeable and experienced development officer like Ellen will help us gain the support needed to serve more children with our world-class pediatric orthopaedic care.”

Haynes spent eight years as director of development at UT Southwestern, an institution closely aligned with TSRHC. All of the hospital’s orthopaedic surgeons hold faculty appointments at UT Southwestern. Haynes joined the TSRHC development team last July.

“I’m excited to join a team of this caliber and commitment and help grow its impact on children with orthopaedic needs,” she said. “Texas Scottish Rite Hospital is such an extraordinary place that makes the world a better place for children.”

At UT Southwestern, Haynes cultivated and expanded relationships with foundations, corporations and private donors. Before joining UT Southwestern in 2006, she was a senior account manager on the corporate relations health care team at the American Heart Association’s National Center.

Haynes earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, a master’s from Oberlin College and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

We don’t want to tell them not to play – TSRHC Sports Medicine

LOGO_Vert_SportsMedCntr_croppedThe easy way to take care of an injured athlete is to tell him or her not to play. Here at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Center for Excellence in Sports Medicine, we look for every way to get athletes back to the field, and if possible, help them stay active while recovering from an injury. Why?


  • There are general health benefits of physical activity
  • Lower body mass index (height to weight ratio) and higher aerobic capacity are associated with improved academic performance
  • There is a positive relationship for sports participation and healthy psychosocial states for adolescents.

Dr. Shane Miller and Dr. Henry Ellis joined their peers in February at the 2nd annual Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine Society (PRISM) meeting. PRISM has brought together a multi-disciplinary team to combine efforts to keep athletes on the field. The meeting, with its attendance of more than 120 of the nation’s pediatric sports medicine specialists, is one of a kind, and our experts took an active role in planning and presenting.

Because of the rise of sports participation in youth, and the concurrent rise in sports injuries, the use of health care resources has increased in this population. Though much progress has been made to ensure that we don’t treat young athletes like little adults, our providers agree that much research is needed.

When tackling the tough topics about how to perform surgery on small joints or how to prevent injuries in contact sports, the consistent theme was not to tell kids not to play. You can trust that our team is constantly working to find answers to these questions…

How do we keep athletes on the field when we do have to treat them? How do we get them back faster?

Learn more about Dr. Miller and Dr. Ellis on our website.

Donor Spotlight: North Texas Golf Course Superintendent Association

The North Texas Golf Course Superintendent Association (NTGCSA) has been supporting TSRHC for more than 20 years.

IMG_20141007_111545The NTGCSA became involved with TSRHC in the late 90’s through the invitation of one of its founding members, Quinton Johnson. Quinton and his wife Martha’s granddaughter was treated at TSRHC following an accident, and they experienced first-hand the specialized care of the hospital.

Soon after, Quinton became involved as a TSRHC volunteer and invited the NTGCSA board of directors for a visit and tour of the hospital. He enouraged the chapter to become involved with an idea for the construction of a putting green for the patients to use during their therapy.


TSRHC Putting Green

After that initial meeting and tour, the NTGCSA chapter has been committed to supporting the hospital through financial and equipment donations as well as agronomic expertise by its members.

In 2014, NTGCSA made a $3,500 donation, which extends their cumulative giving total to over $70,000! The chapter also hosts an annual education meeting in the auditorium of TSRHC’s T. Boone Pickens Training and Conference Center each fall. They have brought in many well known turfgrass researchers to provide education and have a great turnout every year. This year Beth Guertal, Ph.D., was the featured speaker and discussed turf fertility and nutrition.

Thank you NTGCSA for all that you continue to do to support our hospital!!