From the comments log at Dustin Fink’s Concussion Blog, in reference to my Beyond Chron column today. I hereby nominate “A Concerned Mom” for the presidency of Mothers Against Drunk Football.
Great article by Muchnick. I had just been watching Dr. Ledy’s webinar before reading it, and can’t help but agree with Muchnick that we’re basically using our youth in experiments similar to those conducted with lab animals. Dr. Ledy mentioned that rats or other lab animals are concussed and then various measurements are taken to see how their brains respond and in some cases to determine what if any impact exercise has on blood flow and healing.
At this time, we know that concussive and subconcussive hits sustained in football can result in brain damage and the development of degenerative diseases, and that brain trauma in developing brains is especially concerning. So, what we’re doing with our youth who play football, is essentially continuing to expose them to concussive and subconcussive hits until we’re able to determine exactly how many hits are too many along with the genetic characteristics that predispose individuals to poor outcomes (now of course we’re not insisting on full disclosure of the risks to parents or players, because that would just be too great a burden to place on youth leagues, and we certainly wouldn’t want to increase their exposure to liability).
Eventually, over a period of years or decades, we’ll learn how much exposure is too much and the best approaches for concussion management and return to play. Unfortunately some of the children and teens currently playing are going to end up permanently impaired, subject to a degenerative disease, or dead. I guess they and their families can rest assured knowing that with time for further research, education and training we hope to be able to eventually fix the problems which resulted in their life long impairments or deaths.