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The Decision to Participate in Contact or Collision Sports Belongs to Rational and Knowledgeable Parents
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:55 am
While reading the New Times Newspaper on September 9th, I came across a letter titled, "Decision to play football belongs to parents." There is a significant difference between that title and the one for this letter.
I have been involved with safety in contact and collision sports for over 40 years. I was formerly a United States representative to the International Standards Organization (ISO), a member of the Executive Board of the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC), a member of the Safety and Protective Equipment of USA Hockey and have been an active member of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) from 1964 to the present time involved in creating safety standards for every sport and recreational activity.
I am a Diplomate in Sports and Recreation Safety and qualified as an OSHA specialist in safety, safety engineering, warnings and instructions. In addition, I have over fifty years of experience in polymers and have extensive testing experience in the absorption and dissipation of forces of every type of polymeric material used in headgear. A more detailed description of my background may be found at www.scientificadvisory.com.
Furthermore, I have invented and commercialized many products. One of the products essentially eliminated quadriplegics and paraplegics in young children playing football. I was the inventor of the face mask, licensed to Riddell, which changed the sport of football and made it safer for young children and teenagers. It should be noted that there is no protective helmet in the world for any sport or recreational activity that prevents concussions. The only claim every manufacturer can make is that their protective headgear significantly reduces the effective impact force to the head and brain by absorbing and dissipating a large amount of the impact.
I am the inventor of the most universal protective headgear ever invented-the ForceField FFTM Protective Headgear. The use and many applications are found at www.forcefieldhandbands.com. I am also a participating basketball member of the AAU. As a result of my involvement in personal injury and litigation cases, many products, recreational activities, and sports have been made safer.
Each week I receive calls from parents whose children have suffered a concussion. Their pediatrician or personal physician approved my headgear and was allowing their concussed children to go back to playing basketball, soccer, and even cheerleading before they are fully cured. Even though ForceField FF Protective Headgear is the leading provider of protective headgear in the world for a number of activities, my staff is instructed to refuse to sell our headgear for a number of reasons.
– The first and most important reason is that there is no evidence to those who have suffered a concussion that that their treating physician has examined the brain chemistry of the concussed child and can state that the chemistry is back to normal. A non-invasive instrument, the fNMR (f-functional), was developed to perform that determination.
– Secondly, the brains of young children is more important to me than the parents decision to expose their children to a second or third concussion that could result in permanently changing their quality of life forever.
– Last, but not the least of important, the treating physician has no idea if the patient has one or more sub-concussive brain injuries. The brain chemistry of a sub-concussive injury simulates the chemistry of a concussive brain injury. The significant difference between the two is that the sub-concussive brain injury is asymptomatic and cumulative. The child, coach, and treating doctor are not aware of that injury and the IMPACT test cannot determine if the injury is present. The IMPACT test, in the opinion of major brain injury specialists, is a hype. The medical doctor who went around the country selling the program was very well paid.
If the parent whose child is injured is willing to speak with me, I usually stop what I'm doing and take the time to talk to the parent about brain injuries and how important the most important organ in their child's body is to them and their future.
I had the opportunity to speak on head and brain injuries in sports at a number of national and international conventions. There have been a large number of parents in the audience as well as a few coaches whose teenage children are living at home for the rest of their lives. They received permanent brain injuries in contact sports, such as soccer and football and cannot go back to school, cannot converse with their parents, have problems sleeping, have little or no memory, and many other neurological deficits.
It should be noted that when I make those presentations, I do not mention my headgear. The talk involves issues that are involved with brain injuries, what occurs at the moment of impact to the body or head, the resultant symptoms-both temporary and permanent, and it encourages the parent make a prudent decision relating to the type of activity or sport they will allow their child to participate in and what risks they will allow their child to be exposed to in contact or collision sports. Non-contact sports such as track, swimming, ping pong, badminton, , bowling, golf and tennis will last a lifetime with a minimum risk of a brain trauma.
In a specific case, a coach's 17-year old daughter was given the IMPACT test by a medical specialist and was given the approved to go back and play. Within a few minutes of play, while coaching his daughter and the rest of the team, his daughter received a concussion that affected the quality of her life forever. He stated that he raised his daughter for 17 years and now he is living with another person for the rest of his life with a permanent brain injury with all of the symptoms described above. He and his wife have a major problem to solve- they have to find a solution as to how their daughter will be taken care of after they are gone.
With reference to the letter that was published in the News Times Newspaper on Friday September 9, 2016, we have a parent who is proud of her "amazing and dedicated athletes...." She also added that they are high academic achievers. It should be noted that the coach's daughter described above was also an academic achiever and was doing very well in high school.
The parent, who wrote the letter, also pointed out that her son, 10 years of age, was a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo. She was also proud of the fact that the "maximum pints are achieved by kicking your opponent in the head." She also pointed out that "the sport is heavily regulated, that the referees and coaches take great precautions to keep their students as safe as possible." She then goes on to state that her 10 year old son has suffered a concussion "simply playing on the playground." The description of the "accidental bumping of heads" could happen anywhere.
I consult on many playground accidents throughout the United States and have been involved in the creation of safety standards for decades. I was only a brown belt many years ago. We were forbidden to hit an opponent in the head. In those days, brain trauma was not an issue.
The letter writer is proud to state that hitting in the head with a leg or fist gets the most points for a 10 year old? Dr. Tracey Covassin, an associate professor of kinesiology at Michigan State stated that her studies as well as other researchers, have concluded that the high school brain is still developing," and that "there is more cerebral fluid within the brain, making it more susceptible to injury and causing it to take longer to recover. It is also known that female and youth athletes require more time to recovery from concussions than adults with matured brain and that it takes much less force to produce the next concussion after receiving the first one.
Another consideration is that younger children are susceptible to sub-concussive brain injuries and they can receive several of them which go unnoticed until the fourth or fifth low impact to the body or the brain. The accumulation of all of the sub-concussive brain injuries can easily result in a full concussion even though the last impact was well below that of a concussive level. This leads one to conclude that it may not be the concussions that are the epidemic but, even more dangerous, is the accumulation of sub-concussive brain injuries. Does the mother of the 10 year old Taekwondo know if her son has sustained a sub-concussive brain injury or more than one? The answer is "NO."
The question for the mother is: Since you son does very well in school and is not going to be a professional in martial arts when he finishes his schooling, is it worth the risk of a brain injury that may affect his cognitive skills? When your son, hypothetically, has a family, children, a spouse, and is 40 years old, do you think he will be knocking on his neighbor's door and asking his neighbor to go down to the gym or workout center to practice karate? You can ask the same question for soccer, football, lacrosse and ice hockey.
The daughter in the mother's letter was thrown from a pony at the age of 9 and also received a concussion. The mother was proud to state that: "the first thing she wanted to do was get right back on that pony and complete her course of jumps versus spending many hours at the E.R.". She seemed proud of that memory.
It's easy for me to recognize that we have a parent who is directly involved with her children's activities and can't stop her children from playing sports or competing in risky activities where there is a high probably of either one of her children winding up with a permanent brain injury. The only problem is that if the latter happens, her children will not be in a position to thank their parents for changing the quality of their life forever.
More than 150,000 sports-related concussions occurred among teenagers 15-19 between 2001 and 2005 according to statistics published in Pediatrics in 2010. At the current time, the true number is much higher because the stats reflected only injuries treated in emergency rooms.
For many professional athletes, preventing and treating concussions is part of the job. That is not true for any child in a contact or collision sport. They are not receiving the millions of dollars per year like the professionals.
What is more important to a parent whose child or children are doing well in school? The risk of receiving a temporary or permanent brain injury in a sport or recreational activity where there is a relatively high risk of receiving traumatic injury to the most important organ in their body or their scholastic achievements that will influence their future quality of life? That is what a knowledgeable parent should, in my opinion, consider before allowing their children to participate in a sport or activities the presents a substantial risk of harm and traumatic brain injury.
Who is representing the best interests of their children? Too many parents live through their children's activities. We see plenty of those types in every sport and many activities. Take a look at the parents on the sidelines of 5-year olds playing soccer. A reality show for sure!
Hofstra University did away with the collision sport of football. Many other universities and high schools throughout the United States made the same decision. Look what positive rewards the Hofstra students received since that time: a medical school, more funds for research in many different areas, and more funds for worthwhile activities for the benefit of students. The result? The students taking advantage of the benefits will be able to give back to society a lot more than those who risked traumatic brain injuries and are mere shadows of their former selves.