Concussion Issues
Youth Concussions: A Neurosurgeon’s Point of View
Feb 6, 2014 - 2:18:02 PM

( - An interesting article appeared in USA Today a couple of weeks ago and discusses a lecture that Sandra Chapman, Ph.D. gave to a group of football coaches at a conference in Indianapolis.

"Youth football's benefits to health and well-being far, far exceed the risks," Chapman, who is not a medical doctor but founded the Center for BrainHealth at UT-Dallas in 1999, told the American Football Coaches Association. Her logic is, of course, deeply flawed. What she is stating basically is that in order to obtain the benefits of playing a team sport one has to risk a concussion and that for most children these concussions do not lead to permanent brain injury. Discussing the second assumption first, it has yet to be determined what effect even a single concussion has on a person many years later. How can one possibly know what a person would have been like years later if they had not had the concussion? 

There is clear evidence that multiple concussions can lead to brain damage recognized years later. The fallacy of her logic is even more evident in primary assumption. There is no requirement that children must risk having concussions in order to play team sports. Certainly in day-to-day life there is always a risk of a head injury, but generally we make every effort to avoid it. No one disputes the value of athletics and team sports and I need not list all the benefits here.

However, we can do many things from changing the rules of these games to better protective gear in order to markedly reduce the risk of receiving a concussion when playing a sport. Suffering a concussion should not be an anticipated risk of playing a sport, but rather a very rare event occurring outside the bounds of "normal" play.


About New York Neurosurgeon Ezriel Kornel MD

A principal of Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York since 1990, Dr. Kornel is in the forefront of minimally invasive neurosurgery (MIS). MIS is used to minimize the trauma of surgery and increase the speed of recovery. Stemming from his interest in microsurgery, Dr. Kornel has become an expert in minimally invasive endoscopic surgery of the spine as well as minimally invasive approaches in the surgical treatment of brain tumors. Because of his particular interest in cervical spine surgery, he is one of the first neurosurgeons in the New York metropolitan area to replace damaged cervical discs with the newly introduced artificial discs. He was trained in Stockholm in the use of the Gamma Knife and, when indicated, utilizes this stereotactic radio surgical technique for the treatment of brain tumors as well as for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. He is the director of the Institute for Neurosciences at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, NY and is affiliated with many of the leading hospitals in the area.

Dr. Kornel gained his initial expertise during his neurosurgical residency at the George Washington University Medical Center under the tutelage of Hugo Rizzoli, M.D., at the time one of the most renown and respected neurosurgeons in the world. Dr. Kornel has numerous mentions in the biography of James Brady, press secretary to President Reagan, because of his involvement in Mr. Brady's care after his tragic gunshot injury. Highly personalized attention combined with the utmost dedication to the ultimate well-being of his patients is what motivates Dr. Kornel in his efforts to continue.


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