We are the parents of Patrick Grange, the young soccer player who was in the news for his head trauma study last week, including appearances in your paper, the New York Times, Good Morning America and CNN. This is rightfully so – a newsworthy topic to many.
Pat died two years ago, at the age of 29, from ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a disease which usually occurs around the age of 58. Even before results of Patrick’s brain study, we had suspected that head trauma was also a contributor to his passing We encourage research of the link between these two illnesses.
Pat’s brain study was done by Boston University, the same institution that exposed NFL head trauma. His frontal lobe was one of the most deteriorated of any other 29 year old brain that Dr. Ann McKee had ever studied. It also showed much presence of the substance tau, a head trauma indicator. Many doctors around the world are now studying this topic.
We are writing to warn parents of children, who are under the age of 14, to be cautious of head bangs in any activity. Patrick had major concussions as an older player, but what we believe to be the primary cause of his brain’s damage was constant practice doing repeated headers, beginning at the early age of three, as well as intense soccer play and collisions in elementary and mid school. The young brain is extremely fragile and should not be exposed to these types of injuries.
We encourage coaches of all sports involving young children to eliminate the practice of hard contact play. We would also like to stress that if a child appears to have had mild head trauma, in any activity, the child should be refrained from rough play and organized sports and needs to rest their brain for at least two weeks, and possibly for up to two months.
Few players will “go pro.” The danger of head trauma is not worth the risk and consequences.
MICHELE AND MIKE GRANGE