The Resilient Brain

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Would You Rather Let Your Teen Play Football or Drive a Car?

Is all the blame for concussions being rightfully placed on football?

Prior to the Super Bowl there were several interviews with Brett Favre and Joe Namath. Both are world class football players, who are clearly suffering from symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). When asked the question Would you allow your child to play football? Both responded “no.”

When President Obama was asked if he would have let his son played football, he also said no, because of brain injury. He later modified his comments in an interview for The New Yorker, where he compared football to prizefighting or smoking which are dangerous to your health.

It is true that football can be dangerous to your health, especially for a six-year-old as with Pop Warner football. As a mother of three sons who all played football, I believe that football training needs to be introduced when the physical body can sustain impact. Yes, equipment needs to be improved. Yes, there needs to be better sideline methods for detecting a concussion. BrainMaster Technology and I have offered a proposal to the NFL and GE on specific methods for evaluating concussion using neurofeedback equipment and software. Our approach would allow more accurate baseline methods, as well as early detection and evaluation.  

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According to statistics, there are 500,000 football related injuries, 25% of them including concussion, while there are over 2.6 million automobile accidents each year, with approximately the same percentage of concussion. The reality is that it is safer for you to allow your 17-year-old to play football than it is to let him or her drive your car, but unfortunately this fact doesn’t make the national news. This winter has brought so many more snow storms and motor vehicle accidents. All you have to do is watch the nightly news and you’ll see cars piled up and flipped over, plus rear-end accidents. It’s likely most people involved in these accidents have had a concussion. However, you don’t hear President Obama saying he won’t let his daughter drive a car, or that cars need to be safer to prevent concussions.  

Every 13 seconds there is a concussion in the world. Over 80% of all concussions are from falls, auto accidents, domestic violence and blast injury. Only 20% of all concussions are from sports and recreational activity, yet this 20% gets headline news, while the vast majority of people with Post Concussion Syndrome do not get the press or the services, let alone have insurance coverage for treatment. This is where Congress and the president ought to focus their attention.

Answer to the question: We need to make safer cars AND safer sport equipment. 

Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D., is a Neuropsychologist, Board Certified Health Psychologist, Board Certified Sports Psychologist, and Trauma Therapist with over 35 years experience.

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