Sport of Lacrosse: A view from Dr. Cantu

Have I mentioned that I really LOVE you readers?  In case you have missed it, I do love all of you; you make this blog better every day.  In the mailbag today was an article forwarded to me from a family about lacrosse.  The article is from Inside Lacrosse the January issue, written by Terry Foy.  The article is a question and answer with Dr. Robert Cantu and has wonderful-insightful questions and answers.

Because I cannot in good conscience rip off the entire article I will provide the questions by Inside Lacrosse and some quotes, but mostly summations of the answers by Cantu.  Make sure you visit the article for all the information.

  • How familiar are you with men’s and women’s lacrosse?
    • Just like our stance on woman’s lacrosse, Dr. Cantu is very adamant about putting head-gear on players in that subset of the sport.
  • Are helmets one of the primary actors in diminishing the amount of concussions in lacrosse?
    • Depending on the actual cause of the injury helmets can help in decreasing the amount.  Dr. Cantu’s information provides him with data that show most woman’s lacrosse concussions come from stick strikes to the head.  He is correct in estimating that putting helmets on woman would decrease concussions in that case.  He does echo what we have been telling you from day one; helmets do not prevent the primary reason for concussions in collision sports (rotational forces).
  • Because the NFL changed their rules to protect from head injuries, do you think lacrosse, aside from adding helmets on the women’s side, needs to adjust any rules to create the same protection?
    • Cantu says no changes needed in the rules, just proper enforcement of the rules.  Just as I stated with John Sibel for the Sibel, Starky and Miller show’s upcoming concussion piece; rules in all sports are in place to penalize using the head as a weapon or primary point of contact, the problem is that those rules are not being enforced enough, period.  In football usage of the head to “butt block” or “spear” is a penalty.  How many times during a game do you see a player lead with their head down, using the top/crown of the helmet as a weapon…  Almost every play…  Start calling it.  It really is simple, as one coach has told me, SEE WHAT YOU HIT, face up, and the tackle is legal and could be awe-inspiring.
  • Is lacrosse, due to its young stage of popularity, willingness to change and demographics of its participants, in a good place to be a leader in battling traumatic head injures in sports?
    • “I think it’s uniquely positioned. Right now, there is of course professional lacrosse, but the majority of the players have day jobs. They love to play lacrosse professionally and they make money, but they don’t make big-time dollars that they can retire on, so there’s no way in the world they should be placing themselves at significant risk for lifelong problems after their career is over. And they’re nearly all college-educated individuals. So, with those two factors, I think lacrosse is uniquely positioned [to be a leader].” – Cantu in article.
    • I co-sign this statement.
  • Where do you see the state of men’s field lacrosse helmets?
    • Cantu explained that like any helmet in any sport, they can be improved upon.  As we have stated, Cantu echos, that the technology is not present to create a helmet to truly attenuate concussive type forces, other than the focal and linear strikes.
  • What are your thoughts on the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering Star Rankings that evaluated football helmets in a new way? Do you think such a study would be valuable for lacrosse helmets?
    • “I support the basic premise or concept of trying to see if one helmet is better than another. That’s a noble one. I’m supporting the concept. I believe you start doing that in the laboratory, but you don’t end up with it in the laboratory. You eventually have to go to the on-field, live time environment and see whether your lab theories hold up. I’d never want the laboratory to be the final source. The final source is “Does Helmet A protect better than Helmet B on the field?”  The problem is that particular way of testing has a lot of methodological flaws, so the very slight differences that were obtained leads me to believe you shouldn’t be giving someone a five-star and someone a four-star when the reality is so close.” – Cantu in article.
    • Does that sound similar?
  • What were some of the longterm goals I’d like to see put in place with regard to head injuries in sports?
    • Cantu has about the same opinions we have been trumpeting here on the blog: less direct head contact, better equipment, better enforcement of rules, changing of practices, etc.

The article does a good job of not only painting a picture of the concussion issue in lacrosse but the entire spectrum of the brain injury across all sports.  Thanks to the reader that sent this in, give it a full read.

One thought on “Sport of Lacrosse: A view from Dr. Cantu

  1. Stacie January 6, 2012 / 07:42

    My daughter suffered a severe concussion while playing travel lacrosse. She is twelve and was hit in the forehead by a lacrosse ball when a girl took a shot on goal. A helmet would have either saved her from receiving the concussion or decreased the severity. It is three months post and she has still not returned to school full time. I think it is about time we put helmets on girls heads. Change rules if you have to but her tragedy could have been avoided.

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