It seems very common-sense, doesn't it? You, whatever that is you think of as the you of you, are your brain. Your brain is everything, the real Wizard of Oz, Captain Of The Ship, Master Of The Universe. It's the best and most powerful thing you own or will ever own.

So why why why why why WHY do we not treat it with the respect and care it deserves?

This terribly sad story from CNN reminded me that no sport, no game, nothing is worth the loss that Nathan Stiles' family now must endure. The 17-year-old Kansas high student lost his life from the cumulative brain damage he acquired playing high school football. Recent studies have shown that the effects of only two or more concussive head injuries over a lifetime can lead to long-term neurological damage, and may possibly be linked to early forms of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS, as well as chronic depression and personality changes.

This is not good news for millions of people who have experienced multiple concussions, and I am included in that number. Over a five-year time period in my teens I had a series of five accidents, all of which resulted in concussions with a loss of consciousness, most of which could have been prevented or made less serious:

-- a fall at home;
-- a skiing accident on icy ground, no helmet;
-- two major car accidents within two months, no seatbelts worn;
-- crowd surge at a concert, hit to back of head.

After the last one, at age nineteen, my doctor looked at me very grimly and told me that I was walking on thin ice. He continued to say that with the next head injury, my luck could very well run out, and I could have permanent brain damage. I nodded, went home, and cried my eyes out, scared to death. At that age, everything had seemed random, not my fault, out of my control. But it really wasn't. I could have been more careful, more safety-conscious, and should have been. Sure, I was young and young people naturally make mistakes, and I don't beat myself up about it. But I do have to live with the real possibility that someday my brain may age faster or differently than it would have if I had not had those accidents. I don't dwell on it, won't dwell on it, but...well. You know.

So my simple message that I would like pass on to anyone reading this is that even though your brain can be a real jerk sometimes, please remember to show it some love. If you ski, wear a helmet, even if you are just on the bunny hill. If you are riding on a bicycle or motorcycle, ATV, whatever, wear a helmet every time. If you are in a car, always wear a seatbelt. Have fun, but be smart. And parents, think very very very hard before allowing your kids to play traditional football or any other sport where hard hits to the head are not only common, but part of the game. Protective equipment is getting better, yes, but it's still not good enough. It just isn't, especially as more and more research comes in on the brains of former college and pro football players and boxers, and the puzzle pieces are coming together, telling us it doesn't take more than a few good blows to possibly alter the brain in significant, negative, permanent ways.

We are our brains. Ask anyone who has had to care for a parent lost to dementia, or had to bury a beautiful 17-year-old child because he played football with the rest of his friends, and who misses them so very much.