There are few hockey fans who won’t remember Sydney Crosby’s tragic hit in January of 2011, which left Canada’s ‘golden boy’ out of play for 14 months with symptoms of a concussion. His recovery was made very public, and for many fans and athletes, this got the ball rolling on concussion education and awareness.

Another recent development of concussion education and awareness within Ontario is a newly proposed legislation called Rowan’s Law. Rowan Stringer, a 17 year old from Ottawa, received a hit to the head during a high school rugby game, and did not recognize that she had symptoms of a concussion. She returned to play in a game the following day, and suffered another hit which tragically ended her life.  This legislation aims to make concussion awareness mandatory in the school curriculum to ensure greater awareness and better treatment for concussions.  This legislation would be the first of its kind in Canada.

Rowan died of “second impact syndrome”, which occurs when an athlete sustains two successive concussions without complete recovery, causing swelling in the brain and in fifty percent of cases, death. This is why education and stringent “Return to Play” protocols are essential.  Knowledgeable health care professionals can, based on results of several tests, make recommendations about whether the concussed person should rest or start a stepwise treatment protocol.  This applies not only to those returning to sport, but also returning to school or work.  Progression to the next level occurs only when it has been deemed appropriate.

For decades, medical professionals have told concussed athletes to rest, avoid bright lights, and limit activity until asymptomatic. But emerging science recommends to avoid rest beyond 3 days, and to participate in active treatments which help to rehabilitate the brain, prevent mental health issues, and eliminate long-term consequences. A research article in “Pediatrics”, Feb 2015, reported concussed adolescents had more symptoms and slower symptom resolution with strict rest compared to those who had an active recovery.

New research is constantly being done, and it is important for all those affected by concussions to find a health care provider who stays current with the literature to give the best care possible.

Lisa Pall (Athletic Therapist, CC) and Sue Underhill (Registered Physiotherapist) at Maximum Physiotherapy are running The Maximum Concussion Program.  Call them to schedule a baseline or post-concussion test.  705-444-3600.