Head Trauma – Why Are We So Blind?

Sometimes I feel like the lone voice in the desert on certain issues. Head trauma and concussions due to high impact sports is one of those issues. I was incredulous after reading the Washington Post Health section article a few minutes ago on concussion.

On the surface it seemed to be an article debating the wisdom of this baseline cognitive test (ImPACT) given to many high school athletes these days. That test is actually a good start. What fried my wires was the fact that no one, except one neuropsychologist in the final paragraph of the article, is actually talking about how damaging high impact sports are on the brain tissue of our children and teens and what we can do about it as parents.

I am frankly appalled by the number of people who are not paying attention to the new research that is showing up everywhere about brain injury and high impact sports. It is overwhelming there is so much. And yet, many parents seem to be pretending that it won’t happen to their child – placing all their focus on their child’s success as an athlete – as opposed to protecting and nurturing their brain power in order to optimize the vital development that occurs in those first two decades of life.

I have been practicing CranioSacral therapy for almost 30 years and I have treated my share of head trauma survivors, many of them teens with concussions. From sledding collisions to cheer leader pyramid falls to football, soccer, basketball, rugby, hockey and lacrosse players – the headaches, anxiety attacks, sleep disturbances, chronic pain and cognitive losses are a awful high price to pay.

CranioSacral therapy is one of the few effective modalities that, in my experience, actually speeds up brain recovery time. It is non-invasive enough to treat almost from the first moment of injury, through to the latter stages of releasing the restrictions in the membrane system and bone structure of the cranium and neck. By optimizing the environment that the central nervous system lives within, we can be of help in numerous ways. But it still takes quite awhile, and, whatever happened to prevention?

So if I put my Optimist’s Hat on for a moment, I would say that this article is slowly moving us as a culture, to the place where we recognize the extremely high price our children are paying for playing these high impact sports. And perhaps, down the road we will begin to change the face of what we allow in terms of sports that children and young adults engage in. None of us have much control over what our children do as adults, but if we can at least maximize their brain power during their growing up years we are doing a great deal.

In the meantime, I have been clear with my own children about what sports I condone and which ones I don’t. Thankfully neither of them chose high impact team sports, although basketball is becoming more high impact all the time.

As that lone neuropsychologist said so wisely, “My kids don’t play tackle football or ice hockey and they aren’t going to…we’re talking about protecting my kids’ brains. They won’t get a second one.”

I think that about says it all.


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