With the assistance of sports journalist Hyman (Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids, 2009, etc.), neurosurgeon Cantu offers parents, coaches and athletes an authoritative look at concussions.
Beginning with an analysis of what constitutes a concussion—"a shaking of the brain inside the skull that changes the alertness of the injured person"—the author, co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, pinpoints symptoms specific to this type of injury and offers readers therapeutic remedies for the situation. Collision sports such as football, hockey and boxing are known for causing concussions among players, but Cantu points out that many other types of sports and activities also cause this health issue. Synchronized swimming, wrestling, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball, cheerleading, martial arts, skateboarding and tennis are all culprits. Since "children are among the most vulnerable to injury because they have weak necks and immature musculature, and their brains are still developing," Cantu feels it is imperative that athletes, parents and coaches are trained to identify the symptoms of a concussion and know the best methods of treatment. He recommends baseline testing of cognitive skills before a child even begins to play a sport; in the event an injury occurs, there is a reference point to use in analyzing the extent of the injury. Cantu offers comprehensive research on post-concussion syndrome, second impact syndrome and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, brain injuries that are more extensive and longer lasting and require far more rehabilitation than a single concussive incident. Not playing sports is not the answer, however; Cantu stresses the importance of education.
A sober look at a substantial health risk for young and mature athletes.