Book Review: Brain Damage…

bennet-omalu-websitejpgBrace yourself. If you are a parent, get ready to be jolted. When I read the following statement, it sent a chill down my spine. Dr. Bennet Omalu is a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist. He is also a professor at UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He knows what he is talking about when he said in his book Brain Damage in Contact Sports, What Parents Should Know Before Letting Their Children Play,

If your child plays any high-impact and high-contact sport your child has a 100% risk exposure to suffering brain damage

Does his quote stagger you? He goes on to state, “Once your child’s brain is damaged, that is it. There is no doctor who can completely reverse the damage.” Dr. Omalu writes, once a brain is damaged all one can do is try to prevent more damage.

He writes,

Even a single concussion can cause brain damage and make a child less intelligent.

It is pure science. There is no safe blow to the human head. Even a helmet does nothing to protect the brain. Helmets prevent external cuts and abrasions. They might keep a skull from being fractured or internal bleeding, but helmets do not protect the brain. In fact, a helmet may even increase the risk of your child suffering brain damage. Why? Dr. Omalu explains:

What causes brain damage following a hit to your child’s head is the transfer of energy to your child’s brain. Simple physics tells us that the greater the force of impact, the greater the energy transferred to the brain. If you increase the weight of your child’s head by placing a helmet on his head, you increase the energy that reaches his brain. If you increase the size of your child’s head by placing a helmet on his head you increase the energy that reaches his brain, especially when the size of the brain remains unchanged, while the size of the head with the helmet increases. If you place a helmet with a facemask on your child’s head, your child will not feel any pain when he hits with his head. The absence of pain will make him more likely to lead and hit with his helmeted head and weaponize his head, increasing the number of blows to the head and the amounts of energy that reach the brain.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 7.29.02 AM.pngIn the book, he explains how the brain is fragile and susceptible to quick, jolting movements:

The brain is made up of about 60-80% water, and contains over 200 billion cells. It is an extremely soft organ with the consistency of jello or thick custard. Brain cells and fibers float in a sea of water; therefore sudden and forceful movements, forward or backward, or around the center of the brain can cause fragmenting injuries and disruptions of the brain cells and fibers. Once injured, the brain does not have any reasonable capacity to regenerate itself and cure itself completely.

Does Dr. Omalu say children should not participate in sports? Not completely. His warning is primarily for contact sports where there is repeated blows to the head (although he states in the book, even one blow can cause damage). Here is his list:

If your child plays football, ice hockey, rugby, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling and other unhealthy sports like BMX bike riding and bull riding, your child suffers repeated sub-concussions and concussions of the brain, which cause brain damage.

Don’t just think “football” and consider your child is safe because he or she does not play that sport. There are other sports and activities in which parents should take extreme caution and question whether their child should participate:

There are also other potentially dangerous non-contact sports that can cause brain damage although there might not be repeated blows to the head. These include BMX cycling sports, bull riding and any sport that involves bouncing and jumping, such as trampoline-based gymnastics. In these type of activities, there are repeated shearing injuries of the brain which over time, can result in brain damage. My advice to parents is that children should avoid these sports.

Dr. Omalu devotes on chapter, “I Understand, But It Won’t Happen To My Child”. That is a common feeling we all have. We think, my child is fine. There is no evidence of brain damage. He writes, “The absence of Symptoms does not mean brain damage has not occurred.” He explains in one of the chapters why that is so.

But brain damage is not only about sports.

Even minor hits, shoves and blows to your head inflicted by a spouse, domestic partner or friend can cause permanent brain damage over time, which can resemble the type of brain damage we see in contact sport athletes. Your life is yours to protect and no romantic love is worth your life, they are not even close. While you can always find love, you cannot find another life.

Many women suffer brain damage from abusive boyfriends or spouses.  Abuse or sports, blows to the head irreparably damage the brain.

Is allowing your child to participate in contact sports, knowing he or she is at 100% risk of brain damage, child abuse. Dr. Omalu says, “yes.”

Why is he so bent on children’s sports? He states even adults can and do experience brain damage, however the child’s brain is still in the development stage and therefore should be protected at all costs. No sport is worth damaging the pristine, intelligent, beautiful brain of your child.

Does this book shock you? It did me. I encourage parents to buy this book, read it, and take action to be a parent and protector of your precious gift from God.

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