Dr. Robert Cantu recently wrote an article for the Health & Science section of Time that discussed some of the obstacles for true understanding of cumulative effects of collision sports. As he notes some of it is ambivalence but the main reason is that we truly don’t have the hard data, only tiny snapshots.
Cantu begins his article by cementing his thoughts on youth football, it should be flag until age 14. Although this is an arbitrary age the reasoning seems sound, immature brains do react differently than fully developed brains. Research does indeed suggest that adolescent brains – especially prepubescent – are more susceptible and take longer to recover. Granted if they are not playing tackle football there is a good likelihood that some will sustain a concussion riding a bike or jumping on a trampoline; doing general “kid stuff”. The massive difference between that and organized sports is that concussions that happen in the playground or in a park are accidents. Some of our sports mandate that you hit or create collisions. As we should all be keenly aware, it doesn’t take a direct blow to the head to create the concussive injury.
Moreover, once a child had sustained a concussion getting the vital information from them in this subjective injury is difficult. Children and young adults are not very good at describing or even acquiescing to what is wrong. This puts them behind the 8-ball, so to speak, as the proper management is often delayed or not even sought. Mismanagement is the true elephant in the room on this issue. As seen above many concussions occur, by accident, outside of organized sports.
In no way has he, nor I, even remotely been associated with banning of organized sports; if anything we have championed ways to get MORE children involved through less potentially harmful ways. If people would Continue reading
Last week The Aspen Institute hosted a round table discussion on “Playing Safely: The Future of Youth Football” to address growing concern about the epidemic of concussions on our youth. It should be noted that professional athletes are both more mature (in size and brain development) and are adults who can make informed consent decisions. The issue this panel discussed was for the youth football.
The speaking list was both wide and deep including: DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA, Dr. Gerry Gioa, Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu amongst others in attendance;
At the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, a panel featuring concussion experts and former NFL players considered the health safety risks of playing football. Since then, concerns have sharpened, with many parents of young boys saying that tackle football should not start before age 14. At the same time, football also plays a role in addressing the epidemic of physical inactivity. Our roundtable dives deep into the state of football at the youth/community level with a discussion on reforms — and implications on the game up to the professional level.
With awareness beginning to gain traction and definitive research in the area starting to bear fruit this round table Continue reading
I have stated from day one, that simple awareness of what a concussion is and how it should be handled will help with the epidemic and looming issues in all sports. Football is the easy target but concussions come from all walks of life, mainly bike riding and wheeled activities like skateboarding. Awareness is spreading, and along with that there will be changes to the things we enjoy. They should not be taken away, but to prevent someone from doing that proactive steps must be taken.
Mike Cardillo of ctpost.com wrote an article about such culture change in his neck of the woods, Connecticut;
“There’s always been a culture of football about playing through injury,” Coyne said earlier this summer at a concussion awareness night in Westport. “It doesn’t seem like a real injury, like an ACL tear, so it doesn’t seem important.”
Across the board, only a few years after Coyne last played a down, attitudes toward concussions and how they pertain to the sport of football have changed, if not revolutionized.
And more changes are needed, if we are to stave of those that want to bubble wrap our kids. The article explained the Pop Warner rule changes with practice, a good first step in my opinion, but there is more to be done without harming the game, as Chris Nowinski stated in the article;
“The way we were playing in the past, a few years ago, I wouldn’t expose any child to where you’re hitting three, four days a week, drills that never should be done with coaches who aren’t trained for concussions. That was the Wild West,” he said. “Now if we truly commit to attacking all the risk factors, which does include assessment and management, then it remains to be seen if it’s safe enough. Then it becomes a personal decision for the parents to make.”
And with that, the injury of concussion is not the elephant in the room, Continue reading
Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD has written a new book about concussions and youth titled Ahead of the Game: the parents’ guide to youth sports concussions. Dr. Moser is defined by her MomsTeam profile;
Dr. Moser is the Director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, Director of Research Programs for the International Brain Research Foundation, and MomsTeam.com’s youth sports concussion neuropsychologist. A licensed psychologist, certified school psychologist, and board certified neuropsychologist and rehabilitation psychologist, Dr. Moser received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania where she also served on the faculty.
She is a fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and of the American Psychological Association, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology and the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Moser currently serves as an adjunct member of the faculty at Widener University, and as neuropsychological concussion consultant to both the Philadelphia Soul and the Trenton Steel Pro Arena Football teams.
As part of the book launch there is a party prior to the Philadelphia Soul’s game on June 24th. The party will Continue reading
Mentioned previously, the Chartis Insurance group is promoting awareness though a unique way; posting information from their sources on this blog. Their endeavor is part of a promotion for aHead of the Game®. The Concussion Blog does not endorse this company or product, however their willingness to provide information will garner them some blog space. Chartis is not paying this blog to post as we feel this information is educational in content. Other companies are welcome to send along information as well; however not all material makes the blog, it is an owner/author decision.
How to Set Up a Safe Sports Program for Kids:
What You Need to Know
By Sally Johnson and Nathan LaFayette
Creating a new youth sports or recreation program for a local athletic league, recreation center, parks department, or community center is a wonderful and exciting prospect. This gives young children and teenagers the chance to experience the thrill and camaraderie of team sports, as well as remain physically fit and active.
One of the most important components in setting up a youth sports program is safety. The health, well-being, and safety of our youngest athletes – no matter what the sport – are paramount and must take center stage. Just look at a handful of alarming statistics: Emergency room visits for concussions in kids ages 8-13 doubled from 1997 to 2207, and concussions have skyrocketed 200 percent among children ages 14 to 19 over the same time frame, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. High school athletes suffer 2 million injuries a year, with 500,000 doctor visits, according to a December 2011 fact sheet from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, athletes who have ever had a concussion are at an increased risk for another concussion. Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.
Given the nature of the injuries that can be sustained in youth sports, setting up safety guidelines for any new sports league must be established from the get-go. Here are some suggestions Continue reading
Outside the Lines on ESPN interviewed Dr. Robert Cantu after he made public his stance on the issue of youth sports. I have embedded the video from ESPN via YouTube.
I would like to highlight not only Dr. Cantu’s take but also a VERY GOOD journalist that has covered concussions, Peter Keeting at the back end of the video.
In the accompanying story by Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork, Harry Carson believes that the state of football and its aftermath may be similar to playing Russian Roulette;
Carson played through all of his undiagnosed concussions, if only because that’s what NFL players did in the ’80s. He knew something was wrong when he struggled with his vocabulary during interviews, a problem that inspired him to secretly listen to language tapes on his drives home from practice in the hope, he said, “of retraining my brain.”
Carson was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome Continue reading
Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University was at a one day symposium about brain injuries discussing the effects of repetitive injuries to the head. Dr. McKee has been on the forefront of the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research has information that has changed her perception of the sport of football in particular (via Chicago Sun Times and Tim Cronin).
“It’s scary because we know so many people it’s affecting,” said McKee, a doctor of pathology at Boston University and the keynote speaker at Advocate Christ Medical Center’s one-day symposium on brain injuries. “You see so many individuals in the prime of life, both in the military and former athletes, people who are our heroes, struggling with life.”
Over a ten-year career she surmises that a linebacker may sustain 15,000 sub-concussive hits; those hits that do affect the brain but do not produce instant symptoms consistent with a concussion. That is fifteen THOUSAND hits, hits that are similar to a low-speed vehicle accident. The forces being produced are doing some damage in the brain, and the collective damage is causing problems that linger later into life; such as CTE and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). To completely discount a “professor/doctor” because they don’t know sports would be wrong in Dr. McKee’s case; Continue reading