Oklahoma Drill: High School Football, Concussions, and PTSD

A former Pennsylvania high school football player is suing his old school district for injuries he says were caused while performing the Oklahoma Drill in 2009. During the head-to-head maneuver, Shane Skillpa was slammed so hard that his helmet shattered. Even though he was showing signs of concussion, he was returned to practice. Now he is paying the price, and the injuries he suffers today will most likely get worse over time.

The Oklahoma Drill

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Oklahoma Drill started in the 1950’s in Oklahoma. It is practiced by teams of all ages across the country. There are variations, but the basic idea is that two players are put in a small space, where they must try to ram through each other, typically by smashing into each other, helmet-to-helmet, as hard as they can. And yes, this is still used in youth football.

The Lawsuit

When Shane Skillpa smashed with another player, heads so hard that it broke his helmet, his coaches did not remove him from play, according to his attorney. The fact that his helmet shattered should have been enough to prompt evaluation for concussion, but no. Even with symptoms such as nausea and confusion, concussion protocol was not initiated. He was not treated.

Now, Skillpa is suing for injuries he says were the result of the school’s failure to remove him from play and treat his concussion properly. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep problems, memory problems, light sensitivity, and other brain injury symptoms that will plague him for the rest of his life. He also has to worry about possibly developing other serious problems, such as Parkinson’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

If you or someone you love has suffered a devastating brain injury while playing school sports, learn more about Legal Rights and Justice for Brain Injury Victims.

Avatar About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.