Book Reviews: Concussions And Our Kids

Prior to reading “Concussions and Our Kids,” my knowledge of concussions was limited to football. Literally, if someone asked me about a concussion, I would have said it was due to contact on the football field, and that would be it. For example, I spend just about every weekend like plenty of sports fans: watching the NFL on television or live at a stadium. In any given game, a quarterback leaves the pocket and goes to slide, only to get his block knocked off (aka, being tackled viciously) by a defensive lineman. I can tell immediately that the quarterback got a concussion simply from the way his body crumples to the ground when getting hit. That’s football, and it’s something I have been exposed to for so long that hits like that are as commonplace as can be.

Shoot, there was never a time, previously, when I thought about how concussions, and their symptoms, can have an effect on a student being able to do his or her schoolwork, which is a shame considering that an athlete participating in a sport on the youth level is likely to be a student as well (middle school, high school and college). Thankfully, my knowledge of concussions has increased exponentially after reading this book. The author, Dr. Robert Cantu, gives the reader plenty of examples of how and where concussions occur in each and every sport. He also explains the symptoms associated with concussions, which should surely lead to being not only more preventive, but also more proactive when seeing signs of a concussion with the youth competing in organized sports.

Sport by sport, Dr. Cantu outlines how each of them can cause a player to have a concussion and strategies to help make sports safer. Volleyball, for example, is a sport that I watch regularly. With that, I would have never thought that volleyball players suffer from concussions or would even be in danger of suffering from concussions, but while reading the book, I attended some games, paid closer attention to the power that the players exhibited when hitting a ball as hard as possible and, possibly, the ball hitting an opposing player on the head or a player hitting his or her head on the court after being knocked back from the force of a ball. It is hard to ignore, or take for granted, the impact that can have on an athlete over time.

The same can be said for soccer. As stated previously, my knowledge of concussions before this book was relegated to football, but soccer players are exposed to them frequently as well, especially when heading is factored into the equation. Soccer is a fast game, and when you combine bodies moving seamlessly together, along with the ball moving at various speeds, there are sure to be collisions of all sorts that can have an effect on the head and the brain, which puts athletes in compromising positions.

Dr. Cantu also illustrates the culture of sports when dealing with concussions. He realizes that the culture of sports is one that is still learning how to cope with concussions and does not demonize people involved in sports for what they do not know. Instead, he seeks to enlighten and educate the best way possible, and while there is sure to be some resistance (face it, the truth hurts) from time to time, all parties involved in the world of sports are, at the least, attempting to make sports safer for the youngsters.

As stated at the beginning, concussions and their symptoms can have adverse effects on students being able to do their schoolwork. Students can be held out of class for experiencing post-concussion symptoms, and every accommodation should be made to ensure that students are taken care of when dealing with a concussion. That means a better understanding from the school system, as a whole, which is very much possible with the modes of communication available and the strides being taken by experts in the field (medical and education) to make this aspect of student development and life as smooth as possible. Dr. Cantu gives a variety of examples, and the book also has real-life situations and anecdotes from individuals who once competed in organized sports but are unable to now due to never fully being able to recover from post-concussion symptoms.

For people who have an advanced knowledge of medical terminology, they will be able to grasp Dr. Cantu’s analysis very well. However, the author does a terrific job of writing this book in a way that people who do not possess a myriad of knowledge in the medical field can still understand and understand very well. This book has certainly helped increase my knowledge base about keeping sports safer for the kids and doing as much as possible to help them handle concussions when they occur.

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