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The Mac Parkman Foundation

About The Book

As parents, you know the risks your kids face every day – drugs, the internet, video games, strangers – and you work diligently and with love to protect them. Why? We do so because we are aware of those risks.

Well, I didn’t know about the risks of concussive and subconcussive trauma that we discuss in this book. I couldn’t protect my son . . . and I lost him.

That is why I wrote this book, to try to heal through the sharing of knowledge that I have gained over the last year or so. That there is a demonstrable link between concussive sports, developing brains and mental illness. I want you to know what I know. . . You don’t want to be in my club.

Especially when it is avoidable.

~ Bruce Parkman

Think of the millions of American children, teenagers, and adults who have been exposed to years, sometimes decades, of contact sports with little understanding of the physiological damage those years of contact and trauma can do to a brain.

What People say

Allan Hamilton

Allan Hamilton is a Harvard-trained brain surgeon, celebrated speaker and an acclaimed and award-winning writer. He has been called “one of the great intellects of the 21st century.” His peers have elected him “One of the Best Doctors in America for eighteen consecutive years.”

Bruce Parkman has done a great service to begin ringing the warning bell loud and clear about the dangers of concussion, TBI, and their connection to mental health disorders–including the risk of increased suicidal ideation–in our youth, adolescent, teenage, and college athletes.”

He is advocating for a complete reevaluation of how we understand cumulative, concussive head injury in this vulnerable population when the brain is still maturing and developing. His son Mac would be very proud of what his dad has fashioned to honor his memory.

Chris Nowinski

PhD CEO, Concussion Legacy Foundation

Science is connecting concussions and repetitive head impacts in sports to problems with mental health, and I thank the Parkman family for sharing Mac’s story to educate others that there is a better path with sports participation – one that doesn’t involve risking your child’s future by letting them get hit in the head hundreds of times a year.

Alison Haddad


This is a must-read for every single parent and healthcare professional. This book gives an introduction to a colossal issue that everyone turns a blind eye to. This book provides the raw and deplorable truth about the risks of concussive trauma in our youth. It is vital that anyone who is contemplating putting their child in contact sports reads this book. If you choose to put your child in sports, you should know this painful truth. This is the secret that everyone wants to keep under wraps. As a mental health nurse practitioner, I have done thousands of psychiatric evaluations on clients. Every single time I do an evaluation, I ask about the history of head trauma, concussions, or brain injuries. I will say there is a direct link between head injuries and depression/suicidality. This book paints a clear picture of that link and ensures that anyone who reads it will understand the ominous truth behind concussive trauma as a result of contact sports.

Terry O'Neil

Founder, Practice Like the Pros

Youth Contact Sports and Broken Brains is must-read for families of youth contact-sport athletes. Bruce Parkman makes the science understandable. He has converted the unimaginable grief over his son’s death into a pertinent, practical guidebook for parents. What an act of courage….and love. 

Bonnie Moss

Former Division 1 Athlete

Youth Contact Sports and Broken Brains does not discourage sports; on the contrary, it encourages lifelong participation, and embraces our passion for competition. It is a first-class explanation of timing and patience, and when to introduce full-contact sports. Most importantly, it ventures into the black hole of the devastating aftermaths that result from a total disregard for brain safety and ultimately, mental health. 

To say we are ignorant is an understatement. Many of us don’t realize that kids are hurting their most precious asset. And if they do make it through to adulthood after years of consecutive concussions, they are often left with irreparable damage, ruining any chances for a healthy and stable livelihood. 

What’s inside


Part 1. Life and Death

01 MAC

02 Mac’s Last Day


Part 2. Causes and Effects of Subconcussive Trauma

03 Understanding the Iceberg
04 Your Child’s Brain
05 Brain Development
06 Understanding Concussive and     
      Subconcussive Trauma
07 A Young Brain’s Vulnerability to
08 Contact Sports, Brain Damage, and
      Mental Illness


Part 3. What You Can Do

09 What Can Parents Do?

10 Understanding Total Trauma: It’s
     More Than Playing One Sport!

11 The Future of Contact Sports

Back Cover


A young athlete goes down. Our knees go weak.

We hold our breath.

The seconds stretch into minutes, but finally the athlete rises. We cheer.

The athlete rubs their head, then bravely plays on. We breathe again. No damage done.

Or so we think.

How familiar is this sight to parents and families around the country?  How many times a week does this take place?

Sports related injuries, suffered by child athletes, often go unreported and undiagnosed. Here in Youth Contact Sports And Broken Brains, Bruce Parkman, tells the story of his athletic son, Mac Parkman, and how his repetitive exposure to concussive/subconcussive trauma caused him to silently suffer with depression, schizophrenia, and suicidality, before taking his life at the age of 17. 

Sports have a long history in society and the discussion of these issues may seem an unwelcome cultural shift, but in Youth Contact Sports And Broken Brains Bruce Parkman takes a logical and scientific approach to linking mental illness with concussive/subconcussive trauma suffered by young athletes in contact sports.

Mac’s story and the family’s vulnerability are powerful and followed by undeniable science. Youth Contact Sports And Broken Brains breaks down the science of brain development, repetitive brain trauma, and their links to mental illness while giving parents the information they need to keep their children safe when participating in contact sports.


It is important to know:

  • The human brain is not designed to handle repetitive trauma!
  • Concussive/subconcussive trauma cannot be prevented by  wearing helmets or pads.
  • The exposure of a developing brain to subconcussive and concussive trauma can cause significant impact to the brain’s structure which over time can lead to cognitive and behavioral challenges, including mental illness. 
  • Repeated episodes of concussive/subconcussive trauma can cause significant changes to the structure and function of the brain in a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
  • Every child that plays a contact sport will suffer subconcussive trauma at every practice and game.
  • Any damage done to the brain cannot be accurately assessed and its impacts will not be seen for years or decades after being damaged.
  • There are forms of non-contact sports and numerous athletic activities for kids to enjoy…let them be kids!


This book and The Mac Parkman Foundation was formed out of the loss of a great young man to suicide at the age of 17 after struggling with mental illness caused by prolonged exposure to concussive and subconcussive trauma from contact sports at a young age.


Proceeds from this book will directly fund research and education on the links between concussive/subconcussive trauma and mental health surrounding contact sports and youth athletes.



Youth Contact Sports and Broken Brains” is a must-read for all parents of youth athletes. Bruce Parkman is honoring his son, Mac, by sharing his heartbreaking story and informing parents of the science linking brain trauma and mental illness. He breaks down the science of brain development, concussions, repetitive brain trauma, and mental illness, to give parents the knowledge they need to keep their children safe on the field, court, pitch, or mat. This book is a gift to parents who want to protect their child’s future while also providing them with the many benefits that youth sports have to offer.

Julie Stamm

PhD, ATC, Author of “The Brain on Youth Sports: The Science, the Myths, and the Future"

About the author.

Bruce Parkman was born in Massachusetts and entered the Army in 1980 and spent 21 years in the service, including 18 years as a Green Beret serving in a variety of assignments in 7th and 10th Special Forces Groups before retiring as a Sergeant Major in May of 2001. He married Perri in 2001 and with his two daughters moved to New Mexico and Colorado where they raised their family and he started several businesses in defense contracting, cybersecurity and analytics. He currently is the CEO of Blue Light a software development company. He has been a founding member of the Green Beret Foundation and the Global SOF Foundation and has served on the Special Operations Transition Foundation Board.

With the passing of his son Mac, Bruce Parkman devoted himself to understanding why so many young athletes are living with mental illness or taking their lives. His findings led to the formation of the Mac Parkman Foundation for Adolescent Concussive Trauma and to writing this book. He currently is on the Veterans Advisory Board for the Concussion Legacy Foundation and supports Project Enlist, which recruits veterans to donate their brains for research. Mr. Parkman has donated his brain as well so that he can be close to his son.

Mr. Parkman lives in Florida with his wife and dog Cleo and does his best to honor Mac every day. He can be reached at Bruce@mpfact.com

Bruce Parkman