A leading doctor “shines the light” on concussions, CTE, and keeping youth sports safe (Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN football columnist).
See the movie Concussion. But first read the classic book from the acclaimed concussion doctor who’s changing how America thinks about safety in youth sports. From Washington to Quebec, from offices at the NFL to the New York Times, from the NHL players union to the soccer fields of Anytown, USA, people are talking about concussions. Long believed by experts to be a silent epidemic, concussions are fast becoming the most dominating and important issue in all of sports. At the center of this crisis—and one of the key reasons for this increased awareness—is Dr. Robert Cantu, the country’s leading expert on athletic brain trauma and a pioneer in the study of the link between concussions and progressive brain disease in athletes. He has treated thousands of patients who have experienced brain trauma, from high-profile professional athletes to peewees, including young boys and girls who play soccer, football, lacrosse, hockey, and other sports. And he is on the frontlines of groundbreaking research that is changing the way sports are played.
Concussions and Our Kids is the first prescriptive book of its kind to address the issue of head trauma in sports and provide preventive solutions to protect athletes and give guidelines for the way sports can be played safely. Dr. Cantu and sports journalist Mark Hyman have crafted a book that is part manifesto, part manual, explaining to parents and coaches what head trauma is, why it has become a focus of national attention, and why some practices in youth sports must change. They also outline the measures we can take to protect our children. Readers will learn:
• The signs and symptoms of a concussion
• Three concussion tests parents can give at home
• Concussions and what “rest” really means
• How concussions improperly treated can develop into post-concussion syndrome
• Why total brain trauma (not just the number of concussions) is a risk factor for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
• Why helmets are no guarantee of safety
• Why concussions are prevalent in all sports, not just football and hockey
Addressing what sportswriter Bill Simmons calls “the single most important issue in sports today,” this book is essential reading for parents, coaches, players, and all those interested in young athletes, their safety, and their future well-being.
Cantu, chief of neurosurgery and chairman of the department of surgery at Emerson Hospital and co-director of Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, teams up with sports journalist Hyman to cover concussions in kids' sports. The authors present some sobering facts: four million concussions are recognized in children each year, with many times that number actually occurring. Cantu clearly defines a concussion, describes its symptoms and therapy (cognitive and physical rest), dispels myths, and clarifies the dangers. He points out that children are the most vulnerable, with weak necks, immature musculature, and brains that are still developing, and notes that a concussion can occur without direct impact to the head. Throughout this reasoned yet cautionary text, the authors arm readers with critical information, addressing postconcussion syndrome, second impact syndrome, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. While noting that team sports have many benefits, they stress the importance of following such safety guidelines as removing a player from the game when a concussion occurs or is suspected. Each sport receives the author's scrutiny as he calls for awareness, honest dialogue, and meaningful change. Appropriately, Cantu's mantra is "no head trauma is good head trauma." His life-saving message should be mandatory reading for all those involved in kids' sports.