According to Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon at Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts and author of the new book Concussion and Our Kids, no child younger than 14 should engage in rough activities. Doing so could result in a concussion and damage to the brain.
Cantu thinks it might be a good idea for kids to wait until graduating high school before participating in full-contact sports, such as football or hockey.
“If kids don’t have axillary (underarm) or pubic hair, they aren’t ready to play,” Cantu said. “And I have absolutely no problem with parents who want to hold a child out for longer, say 16 or 18.”
Cantu says it has to do with the size of the head in comparison to the strength of the neck.
“Our youngsters have big heads on very weak necks and that combination sets up the brain for greater injury,” he notes.
Cantu is aware of the common rebuttal: Kids who want to be competitive in sports have to start early. But the neurosurgeon says that such arguments are simply not true.