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Conservative Management of Youth Concussions, More Education Needed, de Lench Says

Remarks To Concussion Conference

There is no doubt that the key to keeping our young athletes safe when it comes to concussions is education. I know this from long personal experience. When I started MomsTeam in 2000, I included some information — not a great deal — about concussions based on my own experiences with my sons. After five families contacted us requesting more information we rolled up our sleeves and started looking for more answers. I knew that, working less than two miles away at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts was Dr. Robert Cantu, who we are all fortunate to be in the company of today — is widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost experts on concussions in sports.

Dr. Cantu was concerned that many athletes and their parents did not understand the risk of playing while still symptomatic from an initial head injury. For their part, coaches, especially in sports with the highest risk of head and neck injury, may not fully understand the risk, he said, because most of them have not received training in managing sport concussions.

While Dr. Cantu was traveling the world speaking to his peers in the sports medicine community about concussion management, he felt that those presentations were simply "preaching to the choir." In his view, the most effective way to reduce the number of cases of SIS and protect athletes from suffering long-term effects from concussions was for MomsTeam.com to reach all of the parents, aunts and uncles of youth sports athletes to educate and inform them about Second Impact Syndrome and concussions.

In 2001, working closely with Dr. Cantu, who joined MomsTeam as an expert, the MomsTeam health & safety editor spent two months researching and writing articles for the Head Injury Awareness channel to provide comprehensive information on concussions to coaches, parents, players and trainers.

In the seven-plus years since, we have been continually updating our concussion section to reflect the enormous advances that have occurred in the last seven years in concussion management, and have, I believe, become one of, if not the leading, sources of concussion information for parents on the Internet.

We are proud of what we have accomplished and the impact we have had in concussion education, and we are proud to partner with the Sports Concussion Institute and others in this important and critical educational effort.

Yet we know there is much more that we can do. In the coming months and years, we at MomsTeam will be doing everything we can to provide a forum where everyone with a stake in concussion education and management — parents, including parents of children who have died from second impact syndrome or suffered lifetime impairment from repeated concussions, athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, clinicians, and sports safety equipment manufacturers — can meet in our community to exchange ideas and information and share concerns.

To that end, I am pleased and excited to announce that, in three weeks, MomsTeam will re-launch  providing the kind of tools that I believe will allow us to harness the incredible power of the Internet to build the largest social networking community of sports parents in the world and make it possible for the message to get out, not only about concussions but about other safety topics, nutrition, hydration, the need to balance fun with winning and to involve more woman and mothers as coaches and administrators, to the largest possible audience.

I invite each of you to become active members of the MomsTeam community, to post on our forums, to start your own MomsTeam blog, to submit your journal articles to our editors, to see MomsTeam as a place to inform everyone in the youth sports community about your technological and product innovations, and as a place to share your expertise with parents around the country and the world.

When there is total accountability and transparency and every stakeholder is talking with each other we will begin to see the code of silence broken. Sports programs will begin to value safety before winning. If we all work together towards our common goal, I am confident that we can make youth sports safer and more enjoyable for everyone, and parents, in particular, will be able to sit in the stands comfortable in the knowledge that all of us are playing our part, that we are all part of the same team, that everything that can reasonably be done to reduce or prevent injuries is being done.

It has been a pleasure speaking with to you today——thank you.

Want to discuss this article or have question answered? Please contact Brooke at delench@momsteam.com