Twenty Stanford student-athletes completed a TeachAids-led research seminar today. Their analytical research and reflections will contribute to the development of a new sports injury prevention program.

“Working on this concussion education program has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life,” said Dallas Lloyd ‘17, who just moved on from his position as a free safety on the Stanford football team to the 2017 NFL Draft. “Through our research work, I’ve already witnessed the powerful ways we can influence young minds to play hard and play safe.”

Through this seminar, students identified barriers to reporting injuries and strategies to overcome them. They also worked toward creating research-based education that can serve as an engaging curricular channel for high school youth. Further, they discussed how to multiply their messages by uniting the vast web of existing role models for students — parents, coaches and teachers — behind their cause.

For Dallas, his commitment to concussion education stems from personal experience.

“I was born and raised in an environment where pain is temporary and staying in the game is perceived as tough,” Dallas said. “Between the poor concussion education I'd received and an errant culture, my young mind was heavily influenced to stay in the game upon receiving a concussion. In fact, I'd venture to say that I had no choice but to stay in the game.”

Beyond these cultural barriers affecting students’ decisions to return to play, the lack of support for students recovering from concussions in isolation also obstructs the path to recovery.

“The future of concussion research lies in being proactive with any and all kids,” said Wesley Annan ‘18, who plays defensive tackle at Stanford. “People should be able to have the training needed to keep themselves healthy.”

Shaped by the core design principles of Stanford’s renowned d.school, design-thinking workshops united these student-athletes to ideate strategies against unplugged syndrome — the isolation often felt by concussed students undergoing screen-free recovery in solitude. Stanford cornerback Alameen Murphy ‘19 said the brainstorming and research-based development process evoked a childlike imagination within him and his classmates, helping them generate innovative solutions for affected students.

“The research-based design process is awesome because it invites you to think outside of the box and surprise yourself,” said Treyvion Foster ‘17, who played wide receiver at Stanford. “Often an outlandish idea can give way to incredible and realistic solutions or introduce a new perspective to your approach.”

Another opportunity for hands-on learning arose when the Stanford undergraduates spoke with dozens of high school students and their coaches, parents, and teachers about their experiences with injury prevention education. Ultimately, all of these activities allowed students to explore the multifaceted challenges and fundamental importance of injury prevention.

“This is information I wish I knew in high school,” Alameen said. “It is extremely rewarding to know that our research will help build tools for kids around the country”.

These student-athletes came away from the seminar inspired by how the educational mission of TeachAids aligns with the lessons they consider most important for optimal and sustainable athletic performance.

“Injury prevention removes the shackles from the chains of athletes and allows them to play free,” Dallas said. “Once athletes are playing free, they're able to optimize the experience by having fun and performing at their highest level!”