Thursday, February 19, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Tackle football isn't for kids under the age of 12

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I attended a Ravens game this year where the half-time show included youth football exhibition matches. At one point, one of the players ran around the outside of the line. A player from the other team came up and met him chest to chest. The defensive player planted the runner flat on his back and his head hit the ground. He did not move at all. He was completely unconscious. Parents usually understand that a concussion is a risk when playing tackle football at any age. What most of those parents do not understand is that the risk to a growing child's brain is magnified. The younger the child the greater the possibility that there will be long term effects on the brain. A recent study in the medical journal, Neurology, showed that athletes who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 did worse on cognitive tests than those who started playing after age 12. As with any initial study, more work needs to be done to confirm the findings and look at other factors. A larger group also needs to be evaluated. These are all questions that will be answered in time. The question for parents is what to do with their children in the meantime. This really should not be a difficult decision. Your child cannot get brain damage if they do not play tackle football too young. It appears that they will suffer adverse effects if they do play tackle football prior to age 12. There is no reason to run that risk. It is reasonable to allow a child to learn the various strategies for football. It is reasonable for them to learn the rules of football. This can be done by allowing them to play flag football until they are 12 years of age. I have many patients who come into my office telling me that they are going to play in the NFL. I usually ask them if they are the best player on their team. In most cases the answer is no. If they tell me yes, then I ask them if they are the best player in the conference. The answer is usually no. Delaware has produced a total of five NFL players in the last 15 years. That means that once every three years the best player in the entire state can make it to the NFL. For everyone else that plan is a pipe dream. There is even a TV show, Friday Night Tykes, that celebrates football in children under age 12. The show clearly supports the delusion of creating NFL players on every street corner. The reality is that children under age 12 have vulnerable brains. Injury to their brains at that age can have long lasting consequences. Allowing them to play tackle football at that young age puts them in harms way. I hope I never have to see another unconscious child at a future Ravens game.

Memory Café at CHEER Memory Café, for people with memory loss and their caregivers, will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Monday, Feb. 23, at the Ocean View CHEER Center. This month will feature a birthday party. All are welcome to join in the celebration which will include cake, games, and fellowship. If possible, bring a birthday picture and a birthday memory to share. Memory Café is open to the public and free of charge; however, an RSVP is kindly requested. Memory Café provides a safe environment for people with memory loss and their care partners to laugh, learn, and to be socially engaged with others who are traveling the same journey. This program is not an adult day program, nor one that provides personal or medical care. The caregiver/family member is responsible for their loved one. For questions or directions, contact Yolanda Gallego at or 302-539-2671.

Child safety technician training class Safe Kids Delaware is sponsoring a Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification Course at the Delaware State Troopers Association in Dover on March 3-6.

The course includes classroom lecture, hands-on practice with child safety seats and vehicle restraint systems, required written and practical exams, and an end of course public car seat check-up event. Pre-registration is required and there is an $85 registration fee for the course. For more information and to register, contact the course's lead instructor Mary Ann Crosley at

Nanticoke to host annual health fair Nanticoke Health Services will host its third annual health fair, The Heart of Good Health: A Healthy Community Event, on Saturday, Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Laurel Senior High School. Health education and health professionals will be on hand and several health screenings will be available. There will be healthy living demonstrations, and activities for the whole family. Free health screenings include cholesterol, glucose, vision, blood pressure and more. Cholesterol screenings start at 9 a.m. and require a 12-hour fasting. A donation of $10 is appreciated but not required. Pre-registration is not required. Health information and interactive displays on heart risk factors, body mass index (BMI), stroke awareness, healthy eating, diabetes, cancer, and much more will be available. Vendors will also include many other non-profit organizations and private businesses that provide services related to healthy living. For sports fans, NFL Wide Receiver, Pierre Garcon will sign autographs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Community members are invited to bring one sports item for Garcon to sign. Merchandise will not be sold at the event and autographs will be limited to one per person. The health fair is free and open to everyone. For more information, visit or call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Benefit for Nanticoke Senior Center Spring Fever is in the air and the place to celebrate will be the Nanticoke Senior Center at Hooper's Landing in Seaford. A benefit party to support the Nanticoke Senior Center will be held on Saturday, April 18 from 6 to 11 p.m. The dining staff of the Nanticoke Senior Center is preparing a buffet and signature drinks for the event. While sampling the great food, you can enjoy the saxophone of the renowned Everett Sills. Dozens of items have been donated for a silent auction but additional items are needed to help raise funds to support the programs of the Nanticoke Senior Center - particularly the Homebound Meals Program that served more than 34,000 meals last year to Seaford area seniors. Additional sponsorship opportunities are also still available. The Funsters will put on a show and have lively music for your dancing pleasure. Tickets are $40 each or two for $75 and can be obtained at the Nanticoke Senior Center or online at For more information, call the Center at 629-4939.

Huntington's disease fact of the week The degeneration of nerve cells in the brain causes problems with physical and mental capabilities. This includes symptoms of uncontrolled and involuntary facial and body movement, personality changes and mental illness, and cognitive problems such as learning, decision making and answering questions.

Walk, run, and fun day is May 16 Walk, 5k Run and Fun Day For Huntington's Disease - May 16 at Roger C. Fisher Park, 27701 Park Lane Laurel 8:15 -9:15 a.m.- Registration 9:30 a.m.- Walk /5k run/ Family Fun Day 11 a.m.- Lunch Provided noon- Fun Day Activities 1 p.m.- Auctions Itinerary subject to change.