University of Calgary offers 'groundbreaking' free online course on sports concussions

Research on concussions in sport has reached a tipping point where the University of Calgary is offering a free, online course to anyone and everyone.

A seven-week course starting April 8 will be available to anyone and everyone

A file photo shows a line of youth football helmets. The University of Calgary is offering a free online course on sports concussions. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Research on concussions in sport has reached a tipping point where the University of Calgary is offering a free, online course to anyone and everyone.

A seven-week course starting April 8 via the Faculty of Kinesiology will be useful for athletes, their parents and coaches, health-care professionals, sports associations and policy makers, according to Kathryn Schneider, an assistant professor and scientist at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre.

'Significant health impact'

"We know concussion has a significant health impact and is one of the most common injuries in sport and recreation," Schneider told The Canadian Press on Monday.

"It's a groundbreaking course in that there's no other open online courses that have been run in this area at the University of Calgary. It's the first one of its kind."

The massive open online course, called a MOOC, doesn't provide a university credit.

There is a voluntary evaluation component, however, with questions at the end of each of the six course modules. Participants can get a certificate of completion for $35.

The University of Calgary's course is an adaptation of a French MOOC developed by Dr. Pierre Fremont at Laval University.

Four offerings of the course at Laval have drawn 8,000 participants since 2016, according to the U of C.

Calgary's course offers a discussion board for participants, summarizes the most recent International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sports and the Canadian Guideline on Concussions, and applies course content to different examples.

"At the University of Calgary, we do have a wealth of knowledge in the area of concussion and a lot of faculty members that have a focus on concussion," Schneider said.

"We have a lot of local, national and international contributors to the content and each person contributing to the course is speaking in their own area of expertise.

"While I'm leading and instructing the course, the learner will have the opportunity to learn from a number of different individuals in the area of concussion."

Coursework requires 90 minutes/week

The coursework requires a commitment of about 90 minutes to two and a half hours per week depending on how in depth students want to go, she added.

And, Schneider stresses, it's free.

"There's no charge for the course. It's a way to give back to the community and help translate some of the work that's been done in a way that is applicable and understandable to the general public," Schneider said.

"And get the information down to stakeholders at all levels, ultimately improving care of individuals at risk of, or who have suffered, a concussion."

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