Paying Tribute To Junior Seau and Cord Blood Stem Cells
Junior Seau's suspected suicide may well be the tragic outcome of repeated head trauma playing football. Repeated concussions are believed to significantly increase the risk of chronic depression, learning disabilities, memory loss, sleep difficulties, and behavioral problems. Although Mr. Seau did not have any documented concussions, it is more likely then not that this simply means that this very tough football player never complained and no one wanted to know. We can honor the memory of this very generous and kind man by protecting our children from repeated concussions.
Until recently, the only difference between the treatment for a sports related scrape and a sports related concussion was that a bandage was placed on the scrape. Both injuries typically resulted in an immediate return to the game with high praise for the athlete "being so tough". What was not well recognized is that a concussion actually causes brain damage. An ongoing autopsy study of former National Football League players has repeatedly demonstrated numerous small areas of dead tissue, inside the brain, that are thought to have been caused by concussions. In fact, it may not even take a concussion to injure the brain; it may only take repeated blows to the head. A study of professional soccer players measured their intelligence over a ten year period against similar individuals that did not play soccer. At the end of the study, the soccer players were not as bright as when they started the study and had lost pace with the non-soccer players. For decades it has been recognized without argument, that boxers are at high risk for brain damage because of repeated blows. It is for this reason that Stork Medical advocates a "One and Done" policy. One concussion and the "career" of a middle or high school student, playing in a high risk sport, should be considered over.
The only way that a "One and Done" policy will be successful is if children and parents have this as an expectation. Instead of polite clapping from spectators, and a father's pumped-up pride, as his child runs back on the field after staggering off, the entire crowd and all of the participants need to have the expectation that a concussion is a career ending injury. With this expectation, young boys will not have pressure to go back on the field to demonstrate their machismo; Coaches will not be placed in the position of determining the seriousness of a health problem; Parents will not have to fight will their children about the wisdom of playing again.
Parents of young children may feel that they have a long time before this subject is important to them. However, this is not the case. Expectations are most effective when created with subtle conversations throughout a child's life. In essence, this is how we teach values. With proper discussion from a young age, your child will know the consequences of a concussion, just as he/she learns that lying and stealing are wrong. These same discussions may lead to sports participation choices that favor games where head injury is less likely (basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, tennis, golf, track and field, etc).
A "One and Done" school policy may eventually be a nationwide school mandate. In fact, as a family first company, Stork Medical is not just helping families store umbilical cord blood stem cells to protect their children should an illness occur, it has also begun to lobby Congress on this issue. Until this day arrives, it will have to start home-by-home, and school-by-school. Talk to your children about their sports choices and about your "One and Done" policy. It is an overlooked way to protect both the mental and physical health of our children so that umbilical cord stem cell transplants will be less likely to be necessary. Stem cells from the umbilical cord are being tested in the treatment of stroke, cerebral palsy and autism. They may one day become the standard treatment for brain injury. One day umbilical cord blood stem cell treatments may even include the treatment of depression and other psychological disorders. Even if this becomes the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let's protect our children and honor Junior Seau's memory...One and Done.