Sidney Crosby's concussion a teaching tool

University of Windsor therapist uses Sidney Crosby's concussion as example for his student-athletes. Crosby returns to NHL play Monday after 10 months off.

University of Windsor therapist cites NHL superstar as example of head injury treatment

University of Windsor athletic therapist Dave Stellar had been talking about Sidney Crosby long before the NHL superstar announced he would return to action after suffering post-concussion symptoms for nearly a year.

Stellar, who works with the Lancers men's hockey team, uses the Pittsburgh Penguins forward as an example when his own players suffer a head injury.

"For sure, Sidney was a wakeup call, especially for the NHL," Stellar said.

And for amateur athletes, too.

"Here’s the best hockey player in the world taking time off and he’s paid millions of dollars a year to do it. You're doing it as kind of a hobby when you're getting an education," Stellar said. "If Sidney is taking it seriously, then student-athletes should definitely take it seriously."

Crosby hasn't played since he suffered hits to the head in a pair of games in January. He makes his much anticipated return Monday night at home against the New York Islanders (CBC, 7 p.m. EST).

Stellar said Crosby proved there is no definitive timeline for return from a concussion — for anyone.

"There’s not a simple test where we can take an X-ray of the head or even an MRI that will show us that the athlete’s brain is now functioning normally and it’s safe to return," Stellar said.

Stellar said he encounters athletes who can pass, catch and shoot but still suffer from small headaches or light-headedness but insist they can safely return. He won't allow them.

"They don’t understand that something’s going on up there," Stellar.

Research shows concussions and head injuries cause long-term brain damage. Some has linked it to dementia.

"We don’t want our athletes facing that down the road," Stellar said. "We try to look beyond the small picture."

Stellar, like many other Windsorites, said he'll tune into the game tonight.

"I want to watch it and see how he does," Stellar said. "That will be the other interesting thing to see; is how Sidney plays hockey now compared to how he did before."

Hockey fan Brad Rose called Crosby's return "excellent for the sport."

"I don’t think it will make me watch more (hockey) but he’s important to the league," Rose said.

"I’m grateful he’s coming back," hockey fan Brad Scott said. "He’s the face of the NHL."