Football tackles brain injuries

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

TORONTO - From the ice to the football field, to the rugby pitch, concussions are a threat to some of the sports we love the most.

It only makes sense to tackle the issue head on and that was at the crux of Tuesday’s Canadian Football League media conference.

Led by the pro ranks, all levels of football in Canada got together at Toronto’s Renaissance Hotel to bring more awareness to a problem that does not have a solution yet.

Together the Canadian Football League and Football Canada have produced thousands of concussion cards and posters which outline the signs and symptoms of a concussion, underline the importance of never allowing a player who has these symptoms back onto the field of play and providing a step-by-stop protocol before the athlete is allowed to play again.

As CFL commissioner Mark Cohon pointed out, the key for all pro leagues right now as well as the amateur ranks affected by this issue is to do whatever each can to promote concussion awareness and to lend a hand wherever possible in the research, treatment and prevention of concussions.

Boston University is currently leading the way in that regard, but right here in Toronto another program, just a few months old, is hoping to add some Canadian know-how to the question.

Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and scientist and a renowned expert in the field of brain injury, concussion and injury prevention is heading up the program known as the Krembil Neuroscience Centre Sports Concussion Project.

“What we are attempting to do is to try and bring some answers to why our professional athletes are being affected by this late brain degeneration,” Tator said.

“We are trying to discover if we can detect this issue early before it causes significant brain degeneration and if in fact we could come up with methods not only preventing it but treating it.”

The project brings together neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, imaging experts and neurophyschologists to examine the issue. So far the project has autopsied four donated brains (all from former football players) in hopes of finding some of these answers.

Donations to the program can be made at www.donateyourbrain.ca.


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