New Book Raises Questions About the Quality of Data Supporting a Proposed Ban of Youth Football
(MINNEAPOLIS, MN/NEW YORK, NY) -December 21, 2015—Neurosurgeon Uzma Samadani, M.D, Ph.D, and emergency medicine physician Robert Glatter, M.D, announce the release of their book, The Football Decision: An Exploration Into Every Parent’s Decision Whether Or Not To Let A Child Play Contact Sports. The book provides parents with a comprehensive evidence-based approach for navigating the plethora of data surrounding the risks and benefits of contact sports. A recent editorial in the New York Times by Dr. Bennett Omalu who is featured in the movie “Concussion”, to be released on 12/25/15, has called for a ban on children’s football and other contact sports.
Dr. Omalu argues that even a single brain injury can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive decline, mood and behavioral changes that have now been identified in a growing number of retired football players, as well as long-standing soccer and ice hockey players. The book explores the quality of the epidemiologic and clinical evidence for this argument by following a hockey team for forty years, mining the scientific literature, and polling neurosurgical department chairs and traumatic brain injury experts.
The book suggests that no causative evidence exists that a single concussion can result in CTE. Data is presented supporting chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol abuse, and obesity as compelling risk factors for dementia.
The book reports that neurosurgeons were at least 16 times more likely than the average undergraduate student to have played contact sports in college, and 1.5 times more likely than the general population to have sustained a concussion. 83% of neurosurgeons and brain injury experts would allow their own children to play contact sports.
The book also presents that the spectrum of risk taking behaviors contemplated by children and adolescents is broad and that a variety of activities have equal or greater risk – such as horseback riding, bicycling, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, skateboarding and ordinary play.
“We know that physical activity has tremendous benefit for children, but we are only beginning to understand the benefits of risk-taking behaviors and team dynamics.” explains Dr. Samadani. “The decision whether or not to play contact sports is a highly personal one that depends on a child’s resilience and motivations. Every child should be encouraged to find a physical activity that interests them, and that activity should be made as safe as is reasonably possible. Regardless of what activity is chosen, children and their parents and coaches need to be educated on the importance of recognizing and treating potential injuries immediately. Most importantly Dr. Omalu’s work highlights how little we understand about brain injury and how much more research is needed into this debilitating disease.”
Dr. Glatter and Dr. Samadani provide parents with the necessary tools and evidence-based data to make an informed decision about whether teens and children should participate in organized team sports. Their straightforward and no-nonsense approach guides parents through a complicated maze of CTE studies that reveal how little scientists understand about the condition. The myriad of causes–other than repetitive brain trauma–that could lead to neurodegenerative disorders such as CTE are outlined by the authors in a clear and concise way, providing effective guidance and direction.
“Decisions allowing children to play contact sports should be made by families on their own terms after they carefully examine the available evidence,” explained Dr. Glatter. “In the end, it is our duty not only to protect our children, but also to give them the ability to grow and lead active diverse lives which should include a variety of activities.”
Dr. Samadani is the Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Hennepin County Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Dr. Glatter is Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Hofstra/Northshore LIJ School of Medicine, and an emergency physician and director of sports medicine and traumatic brain injury at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Other contributors to the book are Vikalpa Dammavalam, Vivian Papas, JeYeong (Paul) Sone and Abdullah Bin Zahid.
The Football Decision: An Exploration Into Every Parent’s Decision Whether Or Not To Let A Child Play Contact Sports will be available on Amazon, December 22, 2015.
Contact: Tom Hayes, HCMC Public Relations, 612-873-3337