If you're a hockey player who has suffered a concussion or the parent of one, top researchers in Toronto who examine brain injuries want to speak with you.
That's the message Doctor Michael Cusimano will be delivering at the second annual and appropriately named OUCH Conference (Outcomes following Concussions in Hockey) Saturday at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
Cusimano is a neurosurgeon and director of the hospital's Injury Prevention Research Centre.
He's hoping to create an ongoing dialogue with people affected by concussions so he can better shape future research.
It shouldn't be too hard to find volunteers.
There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 children and youth who suffer concussions in Canadian hockey every year. Although experts believe the number is much higher because many more go undiagnosed and unreported.
OUCH to highlight latest concerns
There is a lot more known these days - and a lot still to learn.
I am privy to all this because I will be the master of ceremonies.
The conference will hear about sideline evaluation after concussions in hockey and the kind of thresholds experts now use to decide if a player should be held off the ice and how that plays out in youth hockey.
Of course, symptoms like dizziness and being unsteady on the ice are easy enough to see.
But the discussion will also examine what people around the game need to consider after a big hit where the symptoms aren't as obvious.
A player may be slow to get up but insist they should stay in the game and in fact only start showing more visible signs of distress days later.
The experts will reiterate the motto these days is if in doubt, sit him or her out.
OUCH will also look at the role of equipment and will hear from one of the experts in Canada leading the research on that front.
Blaine Hoshizaki is the head of the University of Ottawa's Neurotrauma Impact Science Laboratory where he spends a lot of time simulating how concussions occur.
It's Dr. Hoshizaki's belief that this work will give us more clues for the future prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussions.
He will dispel the myth that there is any helmet currently on the market that is concussion proof. Dr. Hoshizaki will also address what needs to happen to create a helmet than can better protect against concussions.
Psychiatric impact of concussions
Dr. Shree Bhalerao will speak to an issue often overlooked when it comes to concussions.
Dr. Bhalerao is a psychiatrist at St. Michael's Hospital who will reveal some of the details of a pilot project he is undertaking looking at the psychiatric issues that can occur with concussion sometimes months after the injury.
The symptoms can include such things as changes to a player's energy, eating, sleep patterns, enjoyment of life, anxiety, even drug or alcohol abuse or thoughts of suicide. This can occur when the concussion leaves them on the sidelines from the game they love and around which they often get their identity.
But Dr. Bhalerao says the psychiatric impact is rarely acknowledged or treated and should be considered in any return to play policies.
Dr. Bhalerao is interviewing 50 parents and coaches and will present some of his early findings. He's found the culture of hockey is often anti-psychiatry and that can stop players from seeking help.
The conference will also look at other important issues such as when to return to play and to school.
It will hear how the education system and officials there sometimes struggle with how to deal with concussions.
The conference will examine the latest from educators, including Barbara Csenge, the director of learning enrichment at St. Michael's College School in Toronto. She has helped develop the return to learn program which helps students reintegrate academically after suffering a brain injury.
She's expected to address how educators determine somebody is really suffering and not using concussion symptoms to be excused from exams and assignments.
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