APTA Responds to The New York Times on Traumatic Brain Injury

April 2, 2009

Dear Editor:

I read with great interest your March 25 article, "Head Injuries: Looking for Signs and Acting Quickly" by Liz Robbins. As your article stated, "the medical community, as well as parents and leaders of recreational, youth and college sports are taking harder looks at the inherent risks, and seeking lessons."

Brain injury can happen to anyone and the lesson we can take away from this tragedy is the importance of wearing a helmet during activities that have a high risk for traumatic brain injury, including football, soccer, and the many recreational activities out there like bicycling, skateboarding, and more, regardless of skill level or age.

On numerous occasions, I have observed adults without helmets enjoying recreational time in high risk activities with helmeted children. With the increased awareness of brain injury that has occurred in the last two decades, we teach our children to be safe. Why not take our own advice?

As a physical therapist, I have seen the consequences brain injury has on the individual, as well as the family, and social network. Because there is no cure for traumatic brain injury prevention is paramount.

Perhaps it is generational. During my youth, helmets were not used, sideline assessments were uncommon, and seatbelts were optional. We've come a long way since those days. Now we have protective equipment, concussion assessments, and mandatory laws for seat belt use that can help decrease our risk for traumatic brain injury.

Now that we are grownups, let's lead by example, make use of the protective measures available to us, and make sure our children do the same.


R Scott Ward, PT, PhD
American Physical Therapy Association