Whack! You’ve had a sudden knock to the head and suddenly you find yourself in pain and in a fog. A trip to the emergency room and a few doctor visits later and it’s confirmed: you have a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Whether you got it playing a contact sport, whiplash from a car crash, or falling on a slippery sidewalk, dealing with a concussion can be an ordeal. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can recover and get back to your regular routine.

Concussions are usually caused by a direct or indirect hit to the head. This trauma leads to internal bleeding, bruising, fluid build-up, tissue damage, or increased pressure on your brain. Some concussions can lead to cognitive, physical, or emotional problems. You may find it hard to concentrate or feel in a fog. You may experience headaches, tiredness, dizziness, and memory loss. The symptoms will vary according to your specific injury and so too will the treatment. That’s why the first thing to do is to seek immediate medical help. An early diagnosis and treatment plan can optimize your recovery.

A concussion can have serious repercussions in the short and long term. This is why any concussion should be taken seriously. It’s also why so much attention is given to athletes who have suffered a concussion. From professional leagues to school teams, athletes, coaches, teachers, parents, and the general public take concussions much more seriously than in the past. You should, too.

Concussion Recovery

The first step is to seek and follow medical advice. That means slowing things down, resting, and taking it easy for a bit. Returning too quickly to your regular activity can prolong or worsen your symptoms.

Research on concussions is evolving and we learn more and more with each breakthrough. Aside from following doctor’s orders, here are some things you can do improve your recovery:

You should also discuss your concussion with your family and employer. You’re going to have to rely on loved ones for physical and emotional support and most employers offer programs, benefits, or allowances to help with employees who have been injured. Talk to them and get the help you need to ensure a full recovery.

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If you or someone you know has suffered a serious head injury as a result of a crash, accident, or someone’s negligence, you have rights. Contact us today to discuss how our team can help you get on the path to recovery.

Five years ago, a young hockey player at the top of his game sustained a couple of heavy blows to his head. The resulting concussion was devastating – sidelining his career and putting his health in serious jeopardy. With June being Brain Injury Awareness Month across Canada, we immediately think of this man’s accomplishments and struggles with brain injury.

This week, that young man is making a triumphant return to the arena where he has long made his mark. You may have heard of him. His name is Sidney Crosby. And this week he is making his third appearance in a Stanley Cup Final – the first since sustaining a serious concussion in January of 2011.

Of course, Vancouverites will know Sid the Kid by his Golden Goal. The whole city – indeed the whole of Canada – cheered ecstatically when he brought down the curtain on the 2010 Olympics with that breathtaking goal in overtime against the American squad.

Sadly, a year later, Number 87’s spectacular career was thrown into a tailspin following his concussion. His recovery lasted years. So as he laced up this week for his latest appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, we remember the long road he took to get here.

Of course, you don’t have to be an Olympic or Stanley Cup champion to know or suffer the impact of a brain injury. That’s what Brain Injury Awareness Month is all about.

According to the Brain Injury Association of Canada, 160,000 Canadians sustain a brain injury each year and over a million live with the effects of an acquired brain injury. The statistics also show that half of those injuries result from falls and motor vehicle accidents.

The good news is that many brain injuries are preventable, especially in sports. The first tip is to always wear a helmet when biking, playing contact sports, or engaging in activities like rollerblading, skiing, or snowboarding where falls are common. Helmets do not always prevent concussions, but properly designed and fitted helmets are your best first line of defense.

Of course, not everything in life can be prevented. Car crashes, falls, and other events can’t be anticipated. Fortunately, the majority of brain injuries are treatable if diagnosed early enough. If you’ve been in an accident or fall and think you’ve sustained a brain injury, go get treatment!

A brain injury is always something to take seriously. Without proper attention, diagnosis, and treatment, the situation can easily worsen with further problems developing down the road. The impact of a brain injury can take only seconds to happen but it can last a lifetime.

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A new study proves teenagers recovering from concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries may have difficulty with schoolwork until the brain fully recovers. Concussion can cause a wide range of difficulties in thinking and reasoning, including problems with memory, difficulties with language, and emotional imbalances.

239 students were medically evaluated one month after experiencing a concussion.

Of the students taking part in the study, those who had not yet recovered from their concussion reported experiencing a wide range of difficulties at school, including headaches, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Almost ninety percent reported that their concussion symptoms were interfering with their life at school.

What should parents do if their child suffers a concussion?

According to Jefferey Mjaanes, M.D., Director of the Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic, following proper concussion treatment guidelines can mean the difference between recovering in just weeks, or taking several months.

  1. Physical Rest – After a concussion, limit activity and make sure your child gets lots of rest and sleep until symptoms resolve.
  2. Mental Rest – Your child should avoid electronic devices, phones, games, TV or computers until symptoms improve.
  3. Monitor Symptoms – Listen to your child and respond to anything that appears to worsen his or her symptoms.

Keeping children and teens healthy and safe is always a top priority, especially when engaging in sports. The serious, cumulative, and long-lasting effects of concussions cannot be overstated.

Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If an athlete reports one or more symptoms of concussion after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, they should be kept out of play the day of the injury. It’s better to miss one game than the whole season due to complications and side effects of an unchecked concussion.

The best way to keep them safe is by educating those responsible for their well-being. If you live in the Vancouver area, we encourage you to join scientists and clinicians from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine as they discuss the latest science behind sport concussions. This session is tailored for parents, athletes, coaches, and teachers.

Topics to be discussed:

Event Details

According to the USCDC, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur at an annual rate of 500/100,000 individuals. Serious cases can be measured by CAT scans, but injuries such as concussions are more difficult to gauge. Untreated mild TBIs can lead to depression, dementia and other problems.

BrainScope, a privately held medical neurotechnology company, is making waves in detecting traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The company develops portable, non-invasive instruments to help assess brain function at the initial point of care after a head injury.

Does brain injury run in the family?

It’s a question we’ll likely hear more often after scientists link genes and a susceptibility to brain injury.

“Until now, all the attention has been paid to how hard and how often you get hit,” said Thomas McAllister, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “No doubt that’s important. But it’s also becoming clear that it’s probably an interaction between the injury and the genetics of the person being injured.”

The findings are timely as another new study has found that concussion diagnosis doubled in young athletes from 2005 to 2012. It’s a reality causing parents to carefully consider whether to permit their kids to play contact sports.

New research has found that teenagers who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide, being bullied, and seeking help for mental health issues. They are also more likely to become bullies, take medication for anxiety and/or depression, or engage in antisocial behaviour.

Neuropsychologist and lead researcher Gabriela Ilie believes the results should serve as a “wake-up call” for parents, educators, and medical professionals. Caregivers must be vigilant to screen and monitor brain injured kids over the long-term.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the NHL alleging that the league has not done enough to protect players from concussions. The lawsuit was filed last week in Washington and now includes over 200 former players.

The issue of concealment is at the centre of the lawsuit. As one excerpt reads: “The NHL’s active and purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries exposed players to unnecessary dangers they could have avoided had the NHL provided them with truthful and accurate information and taken appropriate action to prevent needless harm.”

News of the lawsuit against the NHL comes only three months after the NFL agreed to pay $765M to former players now suffering from dementia and other concussion-related health problems. By settling, the NFL did not have to admit any wrongdoing.

Sports law expert Eric Macramalla says it must be proved in court that the NHL chose not to share information about the long-term neurological impacts of repeated head shots. Without evidence, “the case will ultimately fail,” says Macramalla.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged the seriousness of the issue but admits no wrongdoing. “We are completely satisfied with the responsible manner in which the League and the Player’s Association have managed Player safety over time. We intend to defend the case vigorously.”

News of the concussion lawsuit comes just days before the NHL announced a $5.2B deal with Rogers Communications, giving the media mogul all broadcast and multimedia rights in Canada. It’s the largest deal of its kind in the NHL’s history and will cover 12 seasons, beginning in 2014/15.

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The New York Times recently published an article on first aid for head injuries. It’s worth a review.

What is a Head Injury?

A head injury is any trauma to the scalp, skull, or brain. The most common head injury is a concussion, where the brain is shaken inside the skull. Other head injuries include scalp wounds or skull fractures.

Common causes of head injury include:

The NFL has struck a $765 million deal with the 18,000 ex-players suing the league over concussion-related brain injuries.

It’s “pocket change” for the league, says NFL retiree Brent Boyd, an original plaintiff in the lawsuit.

With the league bringing in around $9 billion a year, Boyd has a point.

The NFL has 20 years to pay the full amount of the settlement. So by the time the settlement money has been paid in full, the league will have generated upwards of $180 billion in revenues.