Dr. Robert Cantu is one of the world’s foremost authorities on brain trauma and concussions in sports. He will speak at our second annual Concussion Summit on Friday, Feb. 27. Dr. Cantu is the author of “Concussions and Our Kids – America’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe.” He is also Senior Advisor to the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, Co- Founder and Medical Director of the Sports Legacy (SLI) Institute in Waltham, MA; Medical and Research Director of the Cantu Concussion Center, Concord, MA and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine. We asked Dr. Cantu a few questions about what parents need to know about concussions.
How do you know if your child has suffered a concussion? Even if they seem fine, what are some signs and symptoms that may develop later, after the athlete gets home?
The athlete may be sleepier than usual and several days post-concussion may have trouble falling and staying asleep and sensitivity to light or noise by day two or three. Kids are more irritable and have a shorter fuse after a concussion. Concussion symptoms like headache and dizziness can get worse and if they do, a doctor needs to assess the athlete.
What is the most important thing coaches, parents, schools and athletes need to know about concussion and its short and long-term effects?
The most important thing to understand is if properly managed, the overwhelming majority of people will be over concussion symptoms within 8 – 10 days. However, if the concussion is improperly managed, and the athlete remains physically active while symptomatic, they run the risk of second impact syndrome, which can have catastrophic consequences.
Since you are an adviser to the NFL, you get the chance to share your expertise with people at the highest level of the game. What would you say to the little league, middle school and high school athletes (or their parents) who want to be that “star player” – who don’t want anyone to see that they are truly shaken up on the field or on the court?
I want them to understand that playing through a concussion could have dire consequences, including death. If they are properly treated, the time away from their sport while they recover will be lessened.
Registration is still available for the 2015 Concussion Summit – visit http://bit.ly/1aebNnH to sign up.