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Monday, August 15, 2016

Concussions and Informed Consent

By Justin Caouette
A Philosopher's Take
Originally published June 10, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

It is often assumed, and for good reason, that children are not in a position to give consent because they cannot properly weigh the costs and benefits that certain actions or procedures would have on their lives, both at the moment of action and in the future. Because of this parents are looked to for consent under the assumption that most parents can properly weigh the costs and benefits. Consider a minor taking a job (in film for example), or when a child needs surgery or an invasive medical procedure. Parents must weigh the risk of the job or procedure and deem if the benefits outweigh the harm. In weighing the risks and rewards of playing organized American football I cannot, in good taste, feel comfortable claiming that children should be afforded the opportunity to play. In fact, I do not think children should be allowed to play. The more I think about it the more apparent this conclusion becomes. In what follows I will offer some of the considerations that have pushed me to believe this.

Injuries : Concussions are serious! Especially for an undeveloped brain. Children’s heads are 90% that of their adult size by the age of 4 yet the muscles in their neck take longer to develop (see here). Because of this, children are not very good protectors of their brain. They cannot brace themselves for the hits they receive which makes it easier for them to get a concussion, an injury that is already prevalent within the sport. Not to mention the unnecessary wear and tear on their joints. This puts them at a higher risk for arthritis later in life.

The article is here.