2009-12-30

Football: Time to Admit the Danger

We Now Know that NFL Football 
can Permanently Damage Your Brain


In October, 2009, the noted author Malcolm Gladwell published a rather
breath-taking analysis of football, particularly NFL football.


http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/19/091019fa_fact_gladwell?printable=true


Gladwell is the author of Blink and Tipping Point, who has a powerful
way of getting the heart of various matters.


In this case, the point is quite clear and devastating.  Pro football, 
as currently played, routinely permanently damages players' brains.


More worrisome for families is the point that concussions are not a 
reliable guide to the issue of brain damage.


For reasons that no one yet understands, the brain is one of the only 
organs that accumulates injury.  That means that if you have an injury
to the brain in 1986 and 2009, it is as if you had one injury in 2009 equal
to the two injuries added together.  And, any further injury to the brain 
leads further additions to those two injuries.


The experience in the NFL dramatically demonstrates that you can have
serious hits to the brain with no symptoms afterwards, but as they add up, 
loss of brain function begins to appear, and does not go away.


The force an damaged delivered to the brain by an NFL blow to the head
now is clearly shown to cause lifelong loss of cognitive function.


We are pleased to say that kids under the age of 12 clearly cannot deliver
the force necessary to cause concern, as long as they play by the rules.


But by high school kids are getting big enough that the blows to the 
head, as measured by scientists, can cause damage to the brain.


So please, read this article.  If you know your child wants to tackle people 
in the game of football, we would recommend it all happen prior to 7th grade.


Until the sport of football changes how the game is played, varsity high school and 
college, and NFL football, places too high a risk on the functioning of the brain to 
justify the risk.



Dr. Arthur Lavin 









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