How P.E.I. could become a leader in concussion research
Concussion-awareness program being developed at UPEI
Bill Montelpare says he doesn't want to scare anyone away from physical activity or "bubble our children," but he hopes a new concussion-awareness program will educate Islanders on the risks and implications of head injuries.
We're not trying to bubble wrap our children and ourselves and want people to be able to know that some injuries are going to happen.— Bill Montelpare
The provincial government will provide the University of Prince Edward Island with $210,000 over the next three years to develop the program. The funding will be matched by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
Montelpare, a UPEI professor and research chair in human development and health, says he welcomes communities to collaborate so it becomes a province-wide initiative and makes P.E.I. a leader in concussion research.
"It could actually become a model for success for the rest of the country and possibly internationally," he said.
At least 1,500 concussions on P.E.I. a year
The province estimates 1,500 Islanders are diagnosed with a concussion each year, and many more go undiagnosed.
The new program will focus on increasing awareness of concussions, injury prevention, reliable and accurate concussion detection, injury management and surveillance.
We say, 'Would you throw a computer on the ground? So why would you put your head at risk at the same level?'- Bill Montelpare
"We're not trying to bubble wrap our children and ourselves and want people to be able to know that some injuries are going to happen," said Montelpare.
"We want to develop a line of consciousness and a conversation where people know what the risks are relative to concussions and that they could be at risk under certain types of activities but that it's OK to participate in those activities."
The work will include coach training, rehab management and a pilot project that will start next month with Grade 7 students — an age where head injuries can have a more severe impact because their brains are still developing.
A 2016 study done by neural experts at York University in Toronto reports that in some cases it can take up to two years for youth to fully recover from a concussion.
Montelpare said he will sometimes drop an old computer on the floor to make his point with students.
"We say, 'Would you throw a computer on the ground? So why would you put your head at risk at the same level?'"
Sport PEI executive director Gemma Koughan said the program will help streamline the message around concussions.
"There are so many different sources of information on concussions and as volunteers in the sport community who are coaches or officials or administrators, it's understanding which is the best piece of information for them to use and I think this exercise will help that process," she said.
"Anytime we're talking about the safety of our athletes, that's paramount."
More P.E.I. news
With files from Laura Chapin and CBC News: Compass