The Washington Post
The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemicby Linda Carroll, David Rosner
As frightening as the numbers
FOR FAR TOO LONG, the menace of concussions has been hidden in plain sight. On playing fields across America, lives are being derailed by seemingly innocuous jolts to the head. From the peewees to the pros, concussions are reaching epidemic proportions. This book brings that hidden epidemic and its consequences out of the shadows.
As frightening as the numbers are—estimates of sports-related concussions range from 1.6 million to 3.8 million annually in the United States—they can’t begin to explain the profound impact of a hidden health problem that can strike any of us. It is becoming increasingly clear that concussions, like severe head traumas, can rob us of our memory, our mental abilities, our very sense of self. Because the damage caused by a concussion is rarely visible to the naked eye or even on a brain scan, no one knows how many millions might be living lives devastated by an invisible injury too often shrugged off as “just a bump on the head.”
This book puts a human face on a huge public health crisis. Through narratives that chronicle the poignant experiences of real people struggling with this invisible and often unrecognized brain injury, Linda Carroll and David Rosner bring home its potentially devastating consequences. Among those you will meet are a high school football player whose college dreams were derailed by a series of undiagnosed concussions, a hard-driving soccer star whose own struggles with concussions pushed her to crusade for safety reform as a coach and soccer mom, and an economist who lost her career because of lingering concussion symptoms from a fender bender.
The Concussion Crisis weaves these human dramas with compelling stories of scientists and doctors who are unraveling the mysteries of how an invisible injury can wreak such havoc. It takes readers into the top labs, where scientists are teasing out what goes wrong in the brain after a jolt to the head, and into the nation’s leading concussion clinic, where patients get cutting-edge management and treatment. Carroll and Rosner analyze the cultural factors that allowed this burgeoning epidemic to fester unseen and untreated. They chronicle the growing public awareness sparked by the premature retirements of superstars like NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Young. And they argue for an immediate change in a macho culture that minimizes the dangers inherent in repeated jolts to the head.
The Concussion Crisis sounds an urgent wake-up call to parents, coaches, trainers, doctors, and the athletes themselves. The book will stand as the definitive exploration of this heretofore-silent health crisis. It should be required reading for every parent with a child playing sports—in fact, by everyone who has ever suffered a hard bump on the head.
The Washington Post
An interesting historical look at our developing understanding of the damage resulting from concussion. (LJ 9/1/11)
A comprehensive, anecdote-laden analysis ofconcussive head traumas.
MSNBC.com and New York Times health writer Carroll and former Newsday and Neurology Now reporter Rosner examine the concussion epidemic as a "major public health crisis," noting that many of these cases go ignored only to reemerge in adulthood as early-onset Alzheimer's disease or dementia, as in the case of boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson. The authors reinforce their assertions with numerous case histories involving young athletes like teenaged football hopeful Dave Showalter, whose raw potential was stunted by the cumulative effects of repeated head injuries. More recognizable victims include NFL gridiron heroes Troy Aikman, Al Toon and Steve Young, and hockey stars Eddie Shore and Pat LaFontaine—all of whom were forced into early retirement as a result of concussive brain damage. Carroll and Rosner spotlight the expansive reach of the syndrome by including female athletes equally susceptible to the malady, car-accident victims, a 13-year-old football player who suffered catastrophic injuries from a solitary event, military soldiers in Iraq and the coaches and professional athletic leagues who, under pressure from players, parents and the industry at large, brush off these potentially life-threatening wounds. Though the personal profiles vastly outnumber chapters on remedies, they are consistently intriguing and alarming, accentuated by brain-injury particulars, scientific and medical statistical data and clinical studies by leading concussion experts like Dr. Robert Cantu, who, after two decades of research, published defined guidelines on the duration athletes should be sidelined after a concussive event to prevent permanent damage from "second-impact syndrome." The authors argue that while positive change is underway with heightened awareness from NFL teams and elsewhere, the majority of concussions still go undiagnosed and that education remains the best defense against this "invisible injury with subtle symptoms that often seems to pass quickly."
A cautionary wake-up call about addressing a seemingly innocuous hit to the head with critical care.
- Simon & Schuster
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Meet the Author
Throughout her two decades as a nationally respected health and fitness writer, Linda Carroll has mastered the art of making complex subjects entertaining and accessible for the average reader. She has written for a wide range of prominent publications, including The New York Times, SmartMoney, Health, and MSNBC.com. Currently, she is a contract writer for NBC News, covering health and business. An accomplished equestrian, Carroll brings more than thirty years of experience in breeding, training, and showing horses. For the past two decades, she has owned and operated Fiery Run Farm, where she has hands-on control of breeding and training her twelve Arabian and Oldenburg sport horses. For more information, visit the farm’s website at FieryRunFarm.com.
For three decades, David Rosner has worked as a sportswriter at major metro newspapers and national magazines. As an award-winning staff writer at Newsday in New York, he spent twelve years covering the full gamut of pro sports—including horse racing. He has covered racing since the spring of ’77 when his first bylined stories as a cub reporter chronicled the harrowing Belmont spill that hospitalized the teen sensation Steve Cauthen. Rosner earned national Associated Press Sports Editors Association awards for investigative reporting and for deadline writing as well as New York State AP and UPI awards for enterprise journalism. He also served as editor-in-chief of the national hockey magazine Rinkside and coauthored The Official Illustrated NHL History.
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I found this book to be very insightful in helping me learn more about brain injuries. While its focus is mostly on the physical injury, there was some about how difficult it is for students to learn after the head injury.