I have been writing and speaking about concussions in youth sports for the past decade, so I was excited when a copy of Kids, Sports, and Concussion (Praeger 2011), by Dr. William P. Meehan, III, arrived at the office.
After finishing the book, I was so impressed that I immediately e-mailed Dr. Meehan, who heads up the Sports Concussion Clinic at Children's Hospital Boston, drove into Boston to meet him in person, and ended up inviting him to join MomsTeam's Team of Experts as our new concussion expert! (Here's a picture of me with Dr. Meehan and Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino, at a recent ReadBoston event).
Kids, Sports and Concussion sets the gold standard for books on sports-related concussions. It covers everything a sports parent and coach needs to know about concussions - and more.
Each chapter in the book begins with a story about a famous athlete who suffered a concussion, which Dr. Meehan uses as a way of introducing the topic addressed in that chapter. For instance, the chapter titled "What is a Concussion" begins with a recounting of the "rumble in the jungle," in which Muhammad Ali, after tiring out defending heavyweight champion, George Foreman with what will forever be known as "rope-a-dope," knocked out Foreman in the eighth round in Zaire with a flurry of blows ending in a punch to Foreman's jaw that knocked him out. He uses the story to make a point: that concussions aren't always the result of a blow to the skull but can be caused by blows to other parts of the body.
The book is designed to appeal to both sports parents and coaches with little or no background in medicine or science, and to those with a scientific or medical bent looking for in-depth information about the latest research on concussions. For instance, an early chapter provides a detailed explanation of the physics of concussion, replete with illustrative graphs, and each chapter ends with a list of studies - many of which are the subject of MomsTeam articles - for further reading.
One of the things I liked most about the book is that it provides a great deal of practical advice to parents of concussed athletes on the management of concussions, treatment options, and the factors they should consider in deciding when it is safe for their child to return to play after a sport-related concussion or, for those with a multiple concussion history, should even consider retiring from contact or collision sports.
The book is a perfect balance of the abstract and the concrete. Sprinkled through the book are stories about athletes who have suffered concussions and, at the end, Dr. Meehan devotes a whole chapter to athletes who have been treated at the Sports Concussion Clinic at Children's Hospital Boston that he heads in which they talk about their concussion experiences in their own words.
It is one thing to talk about concussions in the abstract. It is another thing to talk about real athletes suffering real concussions. I know from personal experience in speaking and writing about concussions in youth sports for the past 11 years that stories about my son, Spencer, who was forced to give up playing high school football after suffering multiple concussions, always resonate powerfully with parents.
Finally, for sports programs looking to start a comprehensive concussion management program, Dr. Meehan provides an extremely valuable template for establishing a concussion protocol for their teams. The book is worth buying just for that one chapter!
Kids, Sports, and Concussion is a valuable concussion resource even for the most well-informed sports parent.
For those sports parents who know nothing about concussions, it should be required reading.
Posted July 21, 2011; Updated September 21, 2011