Canadians Unaware as to Long-Term Effects of Brain Injury, Survey Finds
Around 50% of Canadians know little about the dangers of concussions, according to a recently released online survey commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Findings showed that although almost 100% of those surveyed know that brain injury is a serious problem, only 51% know where to obtain information on how to prevent one. Dawson Creek itself is home to the Northern Brain Injury Association (NBIA), dedicated to preventing brain injuries, providing recovering residents with support, and facilitating full inclusion within respective communities. The NBIA provides a wealth of information, prevention initiatives, and contests, yet clearly, more residents need to be aware of this vital service, in order to avoid the long-term effects of brain injury.
Health Minister Calls for More Effective Strategies for Brain Injury Awareness
According to The Globe and Mail, Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, is working alongside the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities to devise a pan-Canadian strategy, which involves greater awareness of the risks and symptoms of concussion (as well as treatment options), for parents, teachers, and athletes themselves. The survey showed there was cause for alarm. Less than half of respondents knew how to deal with a concussion, and an even smaller group knew how to identify symptoms of a brain concussion.
What are Long-Term Health Problems of Concussion?
Most people assume that concussions are an injury whose symptoms (including dizziness, headache, amnesia, nausea, etc.) pass in a few hours. However, for many, getting over concussion takes weeks or longer. Moreover, those who receive repeated blows can develop degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can cause major loss of memory, major difficulty in focusing one’s attention, irritability, change of personality, etc.
Who Should Be More Aware?
Parents, schools, and sport centres (indeed, any venue in which sports are played or any league responsible for athletes) need to be well aware of important preventive measures and need to understand that concussion has serious consequences. It is not uncommon to see lawsuits filed by victims of concussion against sports leagues and other venues which have failed to adequately protect athletes. After all, new research indicates that even a single concussion can cause lasting brain damage; the study showed signs of structural brain damage in the parts of the brain linked to mood and depression, among those who had suffered concussion. This means that one concussion could potentially affect one’s health and wellbeing, but also, potentially, one’s economic situation.
Parachute Canada’s Protocols
If you have a child who plays sports or you are an athlete yourself, one of the most thorough sources of information is Parachute Canada. In 2017, this organization drafted federal guidelines which over 40 national sports organizations have adopted. One of the most important things these guidelines mention is the need to look out for symptoms, which can range from confusion about the time and date, inability to remember things that happened before or after an injury, seeing stars or flashing lights, having a ringing in the ears, feeling nauseous, vomiting, having poor coordination or balance, or having a blank stare. More serious symptoms, meanwhile, include neck pain, repeated vomiting, seizures, increasing confusion, weakness or tingling in the extremities, etc. It is important to see your doctor of you suspect concussion, since sometimes, a child or athlete can appear perfectly fine after a blow to the head, yet symptoms can rapidly develop in ensuing hours.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor has expressed her support for Parachute Canada “in the development of return-to-school and return-to-sport concussion protocols, based on the Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport.” These guidelines, she notes, need to be consulted by athletes, parents, coaches, teacher, licensed health care professionals, and trainers, to ensure children have the support they need. Petitpas Taylor has stated that the government is continuing to develop new tools and resources on prevention, recognition, and treatment of concussions. Check out the Progressive Activation and Concussion Education mobile app, or Parachute Canada’s Concussion Ed app to access potentially life-saving information.
- Jane Sandwood