Concussions and Our Kids: America's Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe Hardcover – Sep 18 2012
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- Kirkus Reviews
- Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist, ABC News commentator, author of Best Seat in the House
- Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe columnist and author of The Curse of the Bambino and Senior Year
- Gregg Easterbrook, football columnist, ESPN
- Bob Bigelow, Co-author, Just Let the Kids Play and former NBA First Round Draft Choice and Player
About the Author
ROBERT CANTU, M.D. is the Chief of Neurosurgery, Chairman Department of Surgery and Director Service of Sports Medicine at Emerson Hospital as well as the Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and co-director of Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. He also serves as special advisor to the National Football League.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A short time ago, Taylor Twellman, whose story was outlined in the book, came to speak to my daughter's soccer club. It was extremely eye-opening for many of us there to hear him, and I'm grateful for his honesty. We need to take this subject matter seriously and become well-informed. After that talk, however, I still had questions about how concussions work and what we parents should do about it. This book has addressed them all. Thank you particularly for the directive to trust our instincts when we observe subtle changes in their mood, behavior, etc.
Update:this book was so invaluable I purchased a copy for the high school sports coach.
This book is not geared to the professional caregiver or scientist, but directly to parents and people who work with kids in athletics, both formally organized or not. The first few chapters deal with some background info on concussions and how they are defined and occur. Next come stories and commentary that distinguishes the traditional collision sports (e.g., football, boxing) from those sports that are considered non-collision. Basically, a concussion is serious however it occurs. I was amazed for example to learn that synchronized swimming has a problem with concussions because of swimmers hitting one another while doing turns and such. Soccer is another sport that causes concussions. I didn't really think about that before. Some of the others mentioned are tennis, cheerleading, baseball, wrestling, skateboarding, and more. While not written for professionals, there are lots of nuggets of useful information here for professionals who speak to the public regarding concussions / TBI. These nuggets of information are also here to educate kids, parents, coaches, trainers, etc.
The next two chapters go into more detail about the brain injury itself and the end result. These are not overly technical, and are perfectly suited for the intended reader.
Next come chapters on Myths, Moms and Dads, and After Concussions. The Myths chapter is nicely laid out with subheadings listing a myth and then the explanation behind it. The Moms and Dads chapter gets right to the questions that parents have about sports and their kids. After Concussions has many stories about specific outcomes for real kids. Most of the stories in the book come directly from Dr. Cantu's patients, and the names and faces of these kids are shown so you can see they are real people.
The last chapter is on Reform. I want to say that the author, Dr. Robert Cantu, has a very pragmatic, practical, and balanced view of kids and sports. He is pro-sports in all respects, but he is also seeing the need to establish standards for protection as well as how to prevent multiple injuries since the cumulative effects of injury are significant. I have great respect for Dr. Cantu's opinions and I think he has written an excellent book. It is easy to read and very informative based on our current state of scientific and medical knowledge.
I do have a couple of suggestions for improvement however. One is that I think an Index might be useful for someone wanting to come back later and look up a specific detail. The second suggestion is to address more of the inner city kids and how they might be more vulnerable to concussions than kids in the suburbs. I'm speaking hear about vulnerability to not getting good post-concussion care due to lack of knowledge, access to medical care, and perhaps cultural and economic barriers. I think hearing from some pro-athletes about what they experienced as teens and what they know now as professional athletes might be interesting. I would imagine the NFL could find a few athletes who would share some stories. But these are just personal suggestions. I think this book is excellent in any case.
It is full of examples of athletes and their parents who have done things right and even those who did things wrong. It is definitely not overly technical. It is also not over alarming or protective. I feel it could or even should cause a greater concern about the long term risks of multiple concussions. It does not dwell on the risk of long term symptoms from multiple concussions. It is lacking some of the early research into concussions, especially from heading the ball in soccer. It also fails to elaborate on Sub-Concussive Impacts that have been studied extensively at UNC-Chapel Hill. But, it is a great start. If parents and athletes will read it, it will save athletes from misery and even death.
While the concussions are the worst for football and hockey, other non-contact sports are also affected. Dr Cantu prsents various injuries for synchronized swimming, wrestling, cheerleading, martial arts, and the more standard non-contact sports like basketball, volleyball, and baseball/softball, where the headfirst slide is the most common way to get a concussion because young athletes don't do them correctly. Even non-school activities like skateboarding and BMX have their share of injuries.
Dr Cantu writes in an easy-to-follow style. All concussions have symptoms that concerned participants should be aware of. He has them listed in the back in the first appendix. While not all concussions end in a life-threatening epidural hematoma (blood clot), anyone who participates in any sport should be educated in what to look for. What is shocking is that on average only one in seven concussions is properly diagnosed on the playing field.
Dr Cantu conducts baseline testing on all athletes, which helps doctors see if there are any serious injuries after a blow to the head. Progress is being made to educate school coaches and medical trainers to conducts these for all sports. He summarizes the sometimes grusome stories of star athletes who suffered concussions, often multiple ones in a playing career, only to be either sidelined or advised never to play again because of multiple concussion syndromes.
In the end he offers advice for all schools. Helmets should be mandatory for Lacrosse and field hockey. No tackling, body checking or heading before age fourteen. Hold sports officials to higher standards. Wear chinstraps and fit helmets properly.
All the advice should not scare off athletes or parents. His book is simply solid advice from years of dealing with head injuries. While concussions are inevitable, they can be prevented and managed better by following more rigid safety standards, and to do away with severe body contact during practices.
I taught a semester of high school physical education. I would have benefitted from some of the information in this book before some of my classes on softball and basketball. This well-organized and well-written book is not meant to scare off anyone, but to simply make the diagnosis and prevention of concussions easier to follow.
Highly recommended for anyone involved in any sports, from athlete to parent to coach.