Thanks to a heads up serial emailer I was able to not miss this interview of Dr. Robert Cantu, appearing in the SportsLetter – it appears to be written by David Davis. There were some very good questions and answers, below is a sampling;
SL: When did you first realize that concussions in youth sports were becoming a major problem?
RC: When I was a sideline physician for a high school football team over 30 years ago. That’s when it occurred to me that we needed some written guidelines for returning our young athletes to the field of play after they suffered a head injury. That’s what led me to write the first Return to Play Guidelines back in 1986.
I’m a strong supporter of youth sports, but no head trauma is good head trauma. You cannot condition the brain to taking blows. If you subject the brain to enough head trauma, permanent brain damage may happen.
SL: In your practice today, what are the most common myths — the most common misconceptions — about concussions among youth athletes? Is it that there has to be a contact sport involved?
RC: I think the number-one most serious misconception is that you have to be rendered unconscious to have suffered a concussion. More than 90 percent of athletic concussions occur without any loss of consciousness. There are 26 symptoms associated with concussions, and loss of consciousness is only one of those.
Another very common myth is that concussions become exponentially worse as you accumulate them, so that your first one will be more mild than your second, and your third will be worse than your second one. That’s just not reality. The concussions happen to be whatever they are based on the forces involved. I’ve seen many individuals whose first concussion was much more severe than subsequent ones.
SL: How is a concussion involving a youth athlete different than a concussion involving an adult athlete? Continue reading