Concussion an epidemic: London symposium
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 6:33PM EDT
The message for hundreds of people gathered for the ‘See the Line’ symposium at Western University is that concussion has reached epidemic proportions.
And while increased awareness of the seriousness of brain injury may, in large part, be fuelling the increase, on experts say much still needs to be done.
NHL hockey great Eric Lindros puts it bluntly.
"I know first-hand the effects of concussion, I know it all too well. The bottom line is that they suck.”
Lindros is the honorary chair of the collaborative initiative to tackle concussion, which brought together more than 500 people concerned about concussion.
Among them, self-described former hockey enforcer Rob Frid.
“The problem is multiple concussions. They can cause potentially long-term effects. I didn't start getting sick until three or four years after I’d finished.”
Some research findings may be surprising, for example, for girls soccer is a leading cause of sports-related concussion.
Dr. Ann McKee, a concussion researcher at the Boston University School of Medicine, has studied the brains of NFL players post-mortem.
"What we're seeing in some of these players is - the ones who have had repetitive traumatic injuries - that they develop a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Usually those symptoms come out later in life."
One of the messages was that the symptoms of concussion can be subtle, things like a sensitivity to light or irritability even days after the injury.
Although the focus was sport, the message is that it's not just athletes that are vulnerable.
Lindros says "Unfortunately guys like Sidney Crosby have to go through something like this and the result does pick things up from an awareness standpoint. But I think more importantly with all this, I think it's time people share all the results they're getting in the field of research."
It's hoped this symposium will help reduce the incidence of concussion, improve care through research, educate about the impact and be the first step towards making London a hub of concussion research.