Healthy Sports: 2009 year in review

Looking back over 2009, there have been several “Healthy Sports” stories that have sparked comments and controversies worth mentioning:

• In April an article dealt with the topic of safety in baseball. One point addressed “avoiding injury from a hard-hit ball coming off a metal bat.” This comment sparked a swift response from the “Don’t Take My Bat Away Coalition” (DTMBA), a special interest group funded by metal bat manufacturers. Armed with engineering data, their executive director made the argument that a ball comes off the bat no faster with a metal versus a wooden bat. When confronted on the “Healthy Rounds” radio show with the option of using a metal or wooden bat to hit a life-saving home run, he would choose the metal bat.

• The Healthy Sports column that discussed sports options for autistic children received outstanding comments by many groups of dedicated parents and educators. I was pleasantly surprised to find there are more options for these children than I had mentioned, including a soccer program in Hawaii just for children with autism.

• A column about sports anxiety quoted many local professional and amateur sports personalities regarding how they deal with this problem. Comments showed that this is a very common obstacle not only for athletes but also for other performers including public speakers.

• The column that has garnered the most interest this year reviewed information surrounding “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” (CTE). Previously referred to as “Dementia Pugilistica,” it was believed to only pertain to repeated blows to the head from boxing. New data shows that this entity has resulted in premature dementia in football players. This has prompted congressional hearings and anticipated rule changes in football. There is much more to come on this subject.

Let’s all hope for a safe and healthy 2010.

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