Head trauma in childhood can have lasting effect

From our April 2012 issue

By Wm. Norman Morris – Westbank, B.C.

Parents and grandparents need to ask children, “Just what has been happening during your day? Have you had any falls, or have you been hurt in any way?”

Head trauma such as those that Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, and Chris Pronger have experienced can have long-term effects.

When I was a child, we didn’t have access to chiropractors or physiotherapists, but if we had, we still wouldn’t have told our parents about some of the silly, yet traumatic, experiences of our day.

Most teenage boys have been knocked about, as I was when playing hockey from 1941 to ‘45, and while wrestling or boxing.

I was in my mid-teens during the WWII and living in the hamlet of Riceton southeast of Regina. Talk about rough play in hockey games!

Earlier in 1940, while skating in the arena at Watrous as an 11-year-old, I was knocked unconscious by two boys who skated in the opposite direction. That was the first time I literally saw stars!

One may experience head trauma in other sports too, such as boxing and wrestling. At 13, while wrestling in the Riceton curling rink, my head was slammed against a heavy table. That was the second time I saw stars!

Struck lower back

My history of lumbar back problems began in 1937 at eight years old, swinging in the barn of Herb and Hazel Toppings at Kipling, Sask. I struck my lower back against a floor plank, affecting disks below vertebrae L3 and L4 of the lumbar.

That was the beginning of great pain that would bother me throughout my working years, especially by increased work stress over many years. To even slip on ice, or sneeze, would shift the earlier old back injuries, which no doctor was able to correct.

On the day we left home for a long trip, the two disks below L3 and L4 were ruptured. No chiropractor or physiotherapist could offer relief as the condition worsened daily. Because of that, the sciatic nerve was permanently damaged, leaving me with a drop foot.

I agree with Dr. Rajendra Kale, editor of the Medical Journal, who said “fighting and intentional head shots in hockey should be banned because of the risk to players of serious brain injury.”

The neurologist has warned of head trauma sustained in our country’s favourite game. A growing list of players are sidelined from the game.

In addition to what Dr. Kale has said, I would add that back injuries, however they occur and affect a developing child, should be x-rayed early. They should be given immediate attention by professional people so one is not left with permanent sciatic nerve damage.

My advice to parents and grandparents is: Keep an open communication line with children, and ask, “What’s been happening today? Have you had any falls or been hurt in any way?”