Please consider sharing this with family, friends, and coaches.
Brown University scientists have captured in real-time video (see below) what happens to a brain cell after experiencing a significant impact on the brain. And, crucially, it’s not just the hard concussion-causing blows that cause permanent brain damage.
When the brain was hit with a slower blow, “the cells gradually retract all their connections to the surrounding networks and sort of silently shut down. What is striking to us is that within the first four to five hours, the brain cells look healthy, and you think everything is OK.
Then you see the cells changing, and then they start to change rapidly and degenerate, and they’re dead within a few hours. [the below clip shows that clearly]
The reason why there is a delay is because it’s a chemical process that plays out inside the cell. There are certain enzymes that, once they become activated, start to chop down the cell from the inside out.” Christian Franck, Assistant Professor at Brown University
So what does this mean for soccer? Well, for one, I believe that we need to err on the side of caution and prevent youngsters from heading balls until they are, say, 14 or older. Coaches and referees also need to be much more vigilant about head injuries.
CYSA now bans heading for all U13 and below games and NorCal for all U11 and below. This is a very good step, of course, but my personal preference is to see this extended to U14 across the nation.
By the way, even medical professionals and scientists don’t yet know what an acceptable number and type of blows to the head should be. Research is underway, but it will take many years. But I just look at the fragile floating brain in our skull in the clip below and just can’t help but feel that we’re not cautious enough.
And what does this mean for American Football? Pull your child out immediately. You are causing lasting long-term brain damage to your child and there is no way to repair that damage. I simply can’t see how American Football can be modified to make it safe.
There is nothing more precious than our brains and especially a child’s developing brain. For some reason, as a society, we are prone to ignore the health of our brains and just assume that the brain keeps working as designed. And we don’t seem to understand that many brain injuries cause devastating effects only years or even decades later.
But why should we treat the brain with any less care than other body parts? If you knew that a certain type of activity causes repetitive micro-fractures in your legs’ bones and eventually complete lifetime loss of use of your legs, would you continue to encourage your child to perform that activity?
So why would you do this for activities that damage the brain and lead to lifetime impairment and possibly even early death? It doesn’t make sense!
Take this seriously folks!
For more background, please see below for an overview of how impact head injuries occur and click here for a CNN clip on the impact of concussions in soccer.