November 8, 2013
I am in Washington D.C. Thursday and Friday as a participant in the National Council on Youth Sports Safety (NCYSS), being put on by the Protecting Athletes and Sports Safety (PASS) Initiative. Our host and keynote speaker is Dr. David Satcher, the former Surgeon General who has devoted his life to issues of public health, and has recognized that the concussion ‘epidemic’ has become a game changer in the field.
I’ve met a variety of high profile leaders, in addition to Dr. Satcher, in the world of youth sport concussion during my 24+ hours on the ground in D.C.
I don’t suppose it’s surprising, but I think one of the most important components of these sorts of meetings is the networking: I am coming out of this conference with at least three rather solid collaborative research ideas, not to mention commitments to work on other projects with several of the conference attendees.
On a ‘meta’ level, what I was struck by in this conference was the theme that was consistently struck: we need more scientific research on youth sport concussion, and the urgency behind this need derives fundamentally from two areas–1) the often undervalued but critical importance of mental health and 2) the risk of children in being inactive.
In other words, as concerned as we need to be about reducing the risk of concussion, about reducing possible long-term mental health issues consequent to this injury, we need to balance this concern with he equally strong demand that we promote physically active children.
In fact, it’s not simply the effect of sport and exercise on obesity, but also their positive effect on mental health: for instance, physically active kids are less prone to depression. And so, if one were concerned solely with mental health, he would need to navigate the twin perils of traumatic brain injury and physical activity.
At CJSM, we are on the frontline in these issues. We publish original research on concussion in almost every one of our journal editions. The November issue for instance has an excellent study on predicting clinical concussion markers at baseline. In the same issue we published the Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercise Medicine Position Statement on the mandatory use of bicycle helmets: an issue of keeping youth and others safe while they are physically active.
I am leaving D.C. struck….by the sight of the Washington Monument under scaffolding! In truth, I am more than ever struck by how big of an issue concussion has become, and how it will remain central to primary care sports medicine research for years to come. There are lots of questions that need answers. We’ll be working on this continuously here at CJSM.