Back to School: preventing concussions on the playing field
Sport-related concussions are a public health issue, says Dr. Ross Upshur
As kids head back to school, hoping to make this year's sports teams, U of T public health professor and family doctor Ross Upshur is calling for stronger action to prevent sports-related concussion in children and youth.
“The question that is most obvious concerning these findings is: knowing that players average 240 impacts per season, why would a parent knowingly allow this?” asks Upshur (pictured at right), who is also the scientific director of the Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation.
Upshur and Echlin agree that the human and economic toll of this injury is reflected in the less documented incidence of mental illness, associated physical illnesses, as well as loss of academic and occupational productivity among those individuals that sustain this “invisible injury.”
So how can the sporting environment change so that children develop their social and physical skills through participation in athletics?
Upshur and Echlin recommend dramatic rule changes from the recreational to the elite competitive level, including game and rule structure changes to eliminate all purposeful and intentional head contact. They also suggest eliminating the use of the head in games such as soccer, and enforcing significant suspensions to participants or supervising adults involved in games in which head injuries occur.
Nicole Bodnar is a writer with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.