Initiative centres on concussions discussion

“The bottom line is concussions suck.”

Eric Lindros should know. The former NHLer has had his fair share of concussions, eventually ending his career in his early 30s. Continuing to spread the word of education around what can be a devastating injury, Lindros was named the 2013 Honorary Chair for See the Line.

See the Line is a collaborative initiative between London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, Lawson Health Research Institute, Children’s Health Research Institute, Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry including Robarts Research Institute and the faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering.

Lindros was part of an education and community information session Wednesday at the Arthur & Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building, which featured presentations by leading medical experts aimed at coaches, parents and athletes, providing insight, prevention and the latest research surrounding sport concussion.

“Through shifting the research culture from competitive to collaborative this initiative will continue to raise concussion awareness, not just in sport, but in all aspects of life,” Lindros said. “Although impossible to prevent entirely, the goal is to better recognize and treat patients with our sights set on a full recovery – with specialized treatment based on the unique needs of each patient.”

Western professor Lisa Fischer (Health Sciences, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry) spoke of her work on sport concussions, noting while hockey is always thought of the ‘sport of concussion,’ with names like Lindros and Sidney Crosby, no sport is immune to such injuries.

“The reminder to coaches and trainers is to always err on the side of caution. If a hit didn’t look good, take them out,” said Fischer, director of Primary Care Sport Medicine at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic. “Symptoms can be vast and varied, including physical, cognitive and emotional. When in doubt, sit them out.”

She added almost 90 per cent of concussion would get better over a short period of time, if treated properly. While it may take longer for young adults (up to a month), Fischer said concussions fall into the minimum to mild level of injuries to the brain.

“London is an ideal place for concussion research because we have such an incredible depth of expertise and resources here – everything from clinicians specializing in sport-related injuries, to our advanced imaging facilities to our outstanding basic science and clinical researchers,” said Michael Strong, Schulich dean. “We have everything we need here to be doing this type of work, and as we all know, there is a tremendous need for it.”

Lindros added while there have been great advances in the field of concussion research over the last few decades, there is much further distances to travel.

“By sharing both success and failure, new advances, ones to build on for the future will come quicker as research duplication is limited and the highly competitive fund raising dollars are better used,” he said. “Our plan is to lead the way by example. Awareness is up, acceptance is way up, treatment is evolving and strategies aimed at prevention are being discussed, and these are huge areas.”