Co-Founder, Medical Director
Currently Dr. Cantu’s professional responsibilities include those of Clinical Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Co-Founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; Senior Advisor to the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Founding member, Co-Founder, Medical Director, and Chairman Medical Advisory Board Concussion Legacy Foundation, Boston, MA; Adjunct Professor Exercise and Sport Science and Medical Director National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; Co-Director, Neurologic Sports Injury Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Medical Director and Director of Clinical Research at the Cantu Concussion Center at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts; and Neurosurgical Consultant Boston Eagles football team. Dr. Cantu consults with numerous NFL, NHL and NBA teams, and served as Neurosurgical Consultant to the Boston Cannons professional soccer team from 2003-2010. Dr. Cantu also serves on the Mackey White TBI advisory committee to the NFLPA, and on the International Rugby Board’s independent advisory group on concussion.
He has authored over 392 scientific publications, including 32 books on neurology and sports medicine, in addition to numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and free communications, and educational videos. He has served as associate editor of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and Exercise and Sports Science Review, and on the editorial board of The Physician and Sports Medicine, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, and Journal of Athletic Training. In 2003 Dr. Cantu became the section head for the Sports Medicine Section of Neurosurgery.
He grew up in the northern California community of Santa Rosa. In 1960, he received his B.A. degree from the University of California Berkley where he pitched on the varsity baseball team. Jointly, in medical school and graduate school, he received his M.A. degree in endocrinology in 1962, and in 1963, his M.D. from the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. Following a surgical internship at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City in 1963-1964, he began a neurosurgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and simultaneous position of research fellow in physiology at Harvard Medical School. Upon completion of his residency in 1968, he joined the neurosurgery staff at MGH, where his practice and laboratory were located, while assuming the position of acting assistant director of neurosurgery and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Boston City Hospital. After five years of academic neurosurgery with Harvard Hospitals, Dr. Cantu entered private neurosurgery practice at the suburban Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts where he currently serves as Chairman Department of Surgery, Chief Neurosurgical Service and Director Service of Sports Medicine.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Dr. Cantu is medical director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, an ongoing registry instituted in 1982 for data collection and analysis of spine and head injuries. From this data important contributions have been made in sport safety and accident reduction; most notably football rule changes concerning tackling and blocking with the head, the establishment of football helmet standards, improved on-the-field medical care, and coaching techniques. He also serves on the Board of Trustees as Vice President of NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment).
Dr. Cantu also is Co-Director of the Neurological Sports Injury Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
For many years, Dr. Cantu has been actively involved with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the oldest and largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and served as President of this organization from 1992 to 1993 and served as treasurer from 1996 to 1999. Dr. Cantu has received recognition from the college being named as the recipient of their Citation Award in 1996. This year Dr. Cantu gave the organizations most prestigious J.B. Dill Lecture on the History of Concussions at ACSMs annual meeting in New Orleans.
Dr. Cantu’s 2009 media appearances include providing testimony to Congress on the “NFL and Concussions”, CNN with Lou Dobbs on the NFL Congressional Hearings, CNN Saturday Morning Live – “Head Injuries in Football”, and 60 Minutes – “Concussions and Head Injuries in football”, as well as multiple radio programs including NPR.
As spokesperson for ACSM, he has also participated in nationally televised sports programs speaking on diverse sports issues and has appeared on “Larry King Live” discussing the Chris Benoit case in conjunction with Chris’ father Michael Benoit, “ESPN Outside the Lines” discussing the Chris Benoit case, Canadian Television also discussing the Chris Benoit case as well as other media avenues, “NFL Today” with Bryant Gumbel and Terry Bradshaw, discussing the effect of artificial turf on cervical spine injuries, and football injuries on CNBC’s “The Real Story”. He has been interviewed for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Dan Rather, and NBC Evening News with Brian Williams regarding gender and concussion incidence. He has been a spokesperson for ACSM on NASCAR deaths and safety issues surrounding NASCAR and has been interviewed for “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings regarding NASCAR deaths and specifically Dale Earnhardt’s death as well as safety issues in auto racing. Dr. Cantu also appeared on “ABC World News Tonight” with Bob Jamison regarding the Korey Stringer death from heat stroke as well as WGBH Channel 2 in Boston, NPR radio interview, WEEI Boston radio interview and ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, all discussing the issue of heat stroke. He has discussed the health issues of football players with Mary Carillo on HBOs Inside the NFL and has done an interview regarding sports related injuries in cheerleading on Inside the NFL. Dr. Cantu has also been interviewed by Bob Costas on HBOs Inside the NFL regarding Concussion in Professional Sports and was the key speaker on Designer Steroids for Comcast Cable Network. Dr. Cantu is currently serving as the Consultant for NOCSAE to the NFL Concussion Committee and Co-Chairman for the NASCAR Safety Task Force with ACSM. Dr. Cantu has done safety presentations for drivers and teams of CART as well as NASCAR. Dr. Cantu has been interviewed by ESPN Outside the Lines Tom Friend regarding Baby Joe Mesi and his return to boxing after a controversial subdural hematoma. Dr. Cantu continues to be an outspoken advocate for the sport of boxing and continues to advocate for the safety of that sport and its participants. Recently Dr. Cantu has done several interviews on Concussion in the NFL with ESPN, HBO and the Boston area news channels. Dr. Cantu has recently been involved with the NFL meeting in NYC regarding concussions and guidelines for concussions with Roger Goddell. Most recently Dr. Cantu has done two concussion programs for Brian Williams Rock Center with Kate Snow.
As an author of numerous books as well as articles on sports medicine topics, he is frequently invited to participate in symposiums addressing a wide range of sports medicine topics including anabolic steroid use; eating disorders in female athletes; acute and chronic brain injury in boxing; and on-the-field evaluation and medical management and return to play guidelines following head and spine sports injuries. Dr. Cantu’s most recent book, “Concussion and Our Kids,” was published in September 2012. Click here to purchase.
He has served as a consultant to many scholastic and professional athletes on the return to collision sports after a head injury or spine injury, and is active speaking on a variety of health-related interests including the overall benefits of moderate regular exercise; the special health and exercise concerns of senior citizens; and sports safety issues with high school athletic trainers, coaches, students and parents. He currently serves as the Neurosurgical consultant to the Boston College Eagles Football team and served as Neurosurgical consultant to the Boston Cannons professional Lacrosse team from 2003 – 2010. He recently was asked by the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to give two presentations at the NFL’s concussion meeting in Chicago.
Practicing what he preaches, Dr. Cantu has enjoyed long-distance running since 1967. An official entrant in many Boston Marathons, he has also enjoyed the “long runs” at Newport and New York City,. Besides running, Dr. Cantu is a serious tennis player, for many years ranked in the men’s senior singles in New England (NELTA) region. Dr. Cantu has two children, Dr. Rob Cantu and Elizabeth Kim, a grandson Jeremy, and lives with his wife Tina in Lincoln, MA.