Review: Head Games

Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues by Christopher Nowinski

This book rocked my world early on in Jason’s recovery. While I expected little from a book written by a wrestler I was so pleasantly surprised by the amount of research and advocacy he has done for brain injury awareness.

Nowinski has suffered brain injuries himself and has lived through the dark days of seclusion post injury and the hard battle back to a version of his life that he can live with. He describes his own experiences in this book with such precise language it offered me a lot of insight into how my husband was suffering. This was the first account I had heard from a male’s perspective and it was disarming how vulnerable Nowinski allowed himself to be.

After “recovering” (I’m still unclear on if we can ever use the word recovery for a brain injury) Nowinski dedicated himself to learning about brain injuries in athletics and the statistics he discusses in the second half of his book are shocking. I was aware of the injuries in the NFL and NHL but had yet to consider the injuries to kids in lower levels of these sports. Nowinski investigates multiple injuries in youth and their coaches’ abilities and willingness to pull them from their games. His stories reveal a shocking ignorance in youth athletics by both parents and coaches which is extremely dangerous for kids. This book explores different options for youth athletics as well as new tests to diagnose concussions and new protocols for care.

This book was also the first time I heard of second impact syndrome and chronic encephalopathy – both scary sequelae of traumatic brain injuries despite. Reading this book helped me get serious about advocating for my husband and encouraging him to acknowledge symptoms and take them seriously. Despite it’s personal relevance to our situation I think this was an outstanding book that would have been fascinating anytime. It’s changed my perspective on youth sports and I can’t count how many times I’ve recommended it to friends with kids in soccer or hockey (sorry friends if you find me preachy – I just want everyone to be informed!).

It’s available for less than $10 on Amazon and is my best purchase since Jason’s injury.

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