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