Catastrophic Injuries in High School and College Sports
Frederick O. Mueller, Robert C. Cantu, and Steven P. Van Camp
The new handbook Catastrophic Injuries in High School and College Sports is a very concise and useful condensation of a vast amount of data regarding the risks of competitive athletics in young people. The current availability of this monograph is quite timely, given the staging of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the heightened public interest and awareness of the risks of athletic competition. Much of the information available in the monograph has been assembled through the efforts of Drs. Mueller and Cantu. These authors established an important data base 15 years ago at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill known as the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. This center originally focused on traumatic injuries associated largely with contact sports such as football but subsequently has expanded to incorporate data acquisition related to nontraumatic sudden death from underlying (and usually unsuspected) structural cardiovascular diseases or other causes.
Indeed, the handbook is comprised of information that probably cannot be found easily in this format elsewhere. It encompasses all forms of athletic field catastrophes, including considerable epidemiological data on the relative risks associated with participation in a variety of sports. Certainly, Dr. Cantu's vast experience as a neurosurgeon with catastrophic head and spine injuries is unique, and much of this information is detailed in Chapter 1. In addition to the statistics found in the handbook, the authors have also included individual clinical descriptions of selected case studies that add to the readability of the manuscript. The document is well-referenced with respect to prior published work, allowing the reader easy access to original work in this field.
The authors' writing style is clear and concise, making this monograph a particularly useful addition to the library of anyone interested in the issues surrounding cardiovascular disease in athletes and the risks implicit in competitive sports.