Concussions and Our Kids


We’ve blogged before about Concussions and Kids, and there’s a good NPR interview on the subject with Robert Cantu, M.D. that you can listen to here.

Cantu-Cover-200x300Dr. Cantu does a very nice job of surveying the field in his new book, Concussions and Our Kids.  I enjoyed reading in his book that he acknowledges the significance of eye movement testing, specifically the King-Devick Saccade Test, as a valuable tool in assessing the impact of concussions.  Dr. Cantu is quick to add that no single test can be used as an index for safe function in isolation.  There is some interesting controversy that swirls around the topic of Concussions and Our Kids that you can read about in Slate Magazine.  There seems to be a bit of a backlash occurring now, implying that we’re coddling our kids to much and that having their bell rung isn’t as bad as it’s being made out to be.  That it toughens them up, in a positive way, and if we make sports too passive they’re going to get soft.  Almost like kids having poorer immune systems because we’re hyper-sanitizing their environments.

baseball cartoon

I was reminded of this earlier today when attending my granddaughter’s basketball game.  There is Kayla, number 12, the tough girl in the middle, a masterful rebounder and demon on defense.


She was hit squarely in the face with an errant pass and came over to the sideline “seeing stars”.  She went over to her bench and sat for two minutes, but it was toward the end of the game in a tight contest and her coach asked her if she felt ready to go back in.  Even girls are “macho” these days, and she said sure and jumped right back into the fray.

the gym

After the game we were chatting with our son Elliot, who came to see his niece play ball.  Elliot is a West Point grad who did two tours of duty in Iraq and he knows tough.  He was up from Florida for a visit with the family, and he talked about how our grandson Carson (lower left in the photo) was asking to play tackle football.  It’s something our son is weighing seriously.

AMERICAN REGISTRY DR. CHRISTOPHER NYTEChristopher Nyte is a physician in Issaquah, Washington who received the Patient’s Choice Award in 2011.  His career path was brought about by his failure to succeed in professional football.  Last week the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine featured a story about the hard life of an NFL longshot.  This week, Christopher Nyte wrote the following comment:

“I gave up everything for football. By the time I was 23, I had already had four knee operations, multiple broken bones, concussions and many other injuries. During my final professional season, I had the chance to start when the first-team guy went down with a knee injury during practice. That very week I took a misstep off a sidewalk curb and reinjured an already tenuous knee. I was in surgery the next day. My career was over. My inability to make it in pro football was the single greatest failure of my life and the best thing that ever happened to me.’


2 thoughts on “Concussions and Our Kids

  1. Along this same line of thought are our public schools where kids get approved grades at the lower levels and smart kids are dumbed down to the lower level. Home schoolers seem to do better because they become voracious readers and readers become small business owners rather than employees. In addition home schoolers seem to be able to be able to fix the lawn mower and shop by themselves for the correct groceries.
    Now, concerning the brain, I am all for protecting it, after all, broken bones can be repaired but TBI might lead to death by suicide as we all know. I note in Michigan, now bikers can go without helmets with the proper insurance. Some who wear helmets protect the top of the head, but bike injuries are when they take in on the chin.
    So, my comment would be, let the kids play rough rider, just protect their brains. Otherwise we are back to neuroplasticity.
    I wish Carson luck with sports, just protect the eyes and brain.

  2. The TreatNow Coalition is focused on the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat traumatic brain injury/concussion. “We have spent the last eight years building coalitions of civilian physicians and clinics to provide safe and effective care to more than 1,400 veterans, active duty service members, professional athletes and civilians who have suffered head injuries. Nearly all have experienced significant, often life-altering, improvements in brain function. In more than 20 cases, we have helped heal special operations warriors who were at risk for medical discharges due to head injury,” according to Robert Beckman, PhD, Director of the Coalition. He points to published clinical trials that led the Israeli Defense Forces to make HBOT the standard of care for TBI. Beckman also cites research published this month in the journal Neurological Sciences that concludes: “Compelling evidence suggests the advantage of HBOT in traumatic brain injury…suggesting its utility as a standard intensive care regimen in traumatic brain injury.”
    “Watchful Waiting” and repeated cognitive tests are wholly unacceptable standards of medical care for concussion or any head injury given that effective, brain-healing therapies are readily available, according to Regardless of the type of head injury, research has shown that underlying neurological and vascular brain damage can lead to long-term, even fatal, conditions that do not heal themselves. Meanwhile, evidence-based clinical success with head injury treatment protocols worldwide continues to accumulate.
    Tragic stories of ball players suffering long-term debilitating consequences of brain injury, the recent release of the movie Concussion and the upcoming championship game, have focused media and public attention on the role of head injury in sports, especially in young people. The head injury epidemic in sports and the recognition of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as the “signature wound” of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have been extensively documented for more than a decade. Treatment has been available for more than 30 years.
    It is known that a single blow to the head, multiple impacts or a blast wave, whether from sports, car wrecks or combat, can lead to cognitive impairment, degenerative brain damage, depression, dementia, thoughts of suicide, PTSD, post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and myriad other complex diagnoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are nearly 2.5 million emergency room visits for traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year in the US. The Rand Corporation puts the numbers of veterans living with brain injury at more than 420,000, with some estimates nearing 800,000.
    The consensus in civilian and military medicine is that any protocol to heal the brain must include multiple, integrated therapies including medical intervention to reduce the effects of brain swelling and inflammation, nutritional support, physical therapy, psychological/behavioral and cognitive therapy; other alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can be considered. Dr. Joseph Maroon, a noted neurosurgeon and medical advisor to professional football, has written that, “Substantial animal and human research now suggests that…natural dietary supplements, vitamins and minerals, and the use of hyperbaric oxygen may be a better first-line choice for the treatment of [concussion] which has generally been underreported by both athletes and the military.” Unfortunately, military medicine and the Veterans Administration rely heavily on the use of combinations of unproven and potentially suicidal psychoactive and other drugs.
    According to Dr. George Mychaskiw II, former editor-in-chief of The Journal of Hyperbaric Medicine, “Hyperbaric oxygen is a safe, easily used treatment that, in many cases, has resulted in a dramatic improvement in the symptoms of patients with [TBI/Concussion]. Every day we are…gathering more data validating its efficacy…I feel, as do many of my colleagues, that there is sufficient clinical and research evidence to justify the use of [HBOT] as a standard-of-care treatment for [TBI]…”
    The medical establishment has been slow to adopt proven alternative therapies to treat injured brains. Conventional passive and palliative care approaches costing billions, including drugs and unproven, often negative interventions, aim to treat symptoms, not underlying physiological and neurological damage. Beckman summarizes, “While they wait, they and their families suffer, and underlying damage goes untreated.”
    More information is available at and by viewing the videos:
    Joe Namath:
    Maj. Ben Richards:
    Joe Delamielleure (Hall of Fame):
    For Information Contact
    Robert L. Beckman, PhD
    (703) 346-8432

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