Play sports safely and save your brain

The game, as they say, is the thing. It’s the thing at your house, that’s for sure

This week's read

Concussions and Our Kids by Robert Cantu, M.D., and Mark Hyman c.2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $24 / $27.95 Canada 181 pages

The game, as they say, is the thing.

It’s the thing at your house, that’s for sure. Ever since your child’s friends started playing sports at school, it’s been the number 1 topic around. He craves competition. She wants to sign up yesterday. He sees trophies and medals and honestly, you see them, too. After all, having a pro athlete in the family is a good thing, right?

For your child, it’s all about the game. Still, you’ve got lots of reservations and, according to Robert Cantu, M.D., that’s great. In his new book Concussions and Our Kids (with Mark Hyman), you’ll see how competition is important, but it’s also potentially deadly.

Playing a team sport was something you enjoyed as a child and you want the same thing for your kids, too, but you worry. Even though your young athlete denies it, you’ve seen enough accidents on the field to know there’s danger out there. Maybe you remember knocking noggins in a game yourself.

You wonder: are your kids safe enough in today’s game?

Maybe not. Sports, says Cantu, are the “second leading cause of traumatic brain injury” for youth ages 15 to 24. Every sport, no matter how little contact there is between players, has some risk and helmets aren’t always protection enough.

That’s because a concussion can occur from something as minor as a hard bump or fall that snaps a player’s head. Even if they’re expecting it, a tackle or body check can jostle a child’s brain enough to cause damage. If the player is under age 14, his muscles probably aren’t mature enough to withstand a blow. And if there are multiple injuries, the danger multiplies, too.

To best protect your child, know the symptoms of concussion and be sure your child’s coach knows them, too. Don’t rely on helmets and don’t waste your money on fad fixes. Insist on a baseline brain test before the sports season begins. Lobby for less violence in children’s sports. “Calm down” and remember the players are just kids. And don’t accept “it’s not cool” as an excuse not to wear protective gear.

That extra-padded helmet might not be “cool,” but neither is being in a coma.

You wince. You gasp. You want to cover your eyes when your child takes a hit on the field, but you should never look away from the play. Read Concussions and Our Kids and learn why.

Knowledge is key when it comes to head trauma, and authors Robert Cantu and Mark Hyman do a thorough job in preparing parents to be eagle-eyed on the subject. There’s a lot of information packed in this book, along with mythbusters, blunt words, worksheets, cautionary tales and one modern proverb that you can repeat to kids and coaches alike: “No head trauma is good head trauma.”

There’s always another ball season around the bend but before you sign that permission slip, read this book. With Concussions and Our Kids and the knowledge you’ll gain, you’ll see that sports sometimes ain’t no game.

Just Posted

Reflections: The early construction of then Ponoka mental hospital

Looking at the early development of then provincial mental hospital in Ponoka

Wolf Creek Schools superintendent receives contract extension

Jayson Lovell will continue to serve as superintendent through 2024

Ponoka fire crews deal with trailer fire on the QEII

There wasn’t much left of a 53 foot trailer after it went up in flames near Ponoka

Suspects from Ponoka charged in pawn shop theft

Ponoka RCMP say the two face several charges from Stampede Pawn incident

Ponoka provides update on recent water main breaks

Some roads continue to be closed to traffic as repairs to be completed

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Notley’s government puts priority on health care in throne speech

Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell kicked off the legislature session

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Ponoka RCMP on lookout for stolen pickup

The black 2011 Ford F350 King Ranch pickup was stolen from a rural residence

B.C. argues it cannot stop Trans Mountain, but it can protect environment

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says only Ottawa has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick retires in wake of SNC-Lavalin case

Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Wernick of pressuring her to head off criminal charges for the firm

Most Read