This past week, I had the opportunity to attend “Concussions- the international summit 2018” with my friend and colleague Matt Sanchez (neurochangers.com).
Although the day led off with the disappointing news that my childhood idol Eric Lindros would not be attending the conference, that disappointment was quickly erased by the presentation of Ken Dryden.
Ken spoke a lot about his book “Game Change” (that was reviewed in a previous blog). His discussion was primarily about the high prevalence of concussions in the current game of hockey and how he believes that this can be changed. He very aggressively challenged Gary Bettman, the commissioner and lead decision maker to protect his players, before there aren’t any players to protect. He talked about how hockey traditionalists believe that you can’t change the game, but that the game has been constantly changing. He compares the process to that of the tobacco industry, where the tobacco companies denied that tobacco caused cancer for many years. Ken remembers that eventually everyone realized that they were being lied to. He believes that everyone will eventually realize that the league is lying to them about the fact that there’s nothing more that can be done to prevent concussions. He finished with the thought “where there’s a way, there’s a will”, meaning that if we can show that there’s a way to prevent concussions, people will buy in.
Renowned Neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator from the university of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital was up next. Dr. Tator spoke about his experience with concussions, common signs and symptoms of concussions, and prognostic indicators. Dr. Tator also introduced the topic of Rowan’s Law and how it came to fruition. He also discussed a website called parachutecanada.org which is an informational website to be used by athletes, teachers, and health care providers to help recognize signs of concussions and guide decision making down the road. He spoke about his feelings that only physicians and nurse practitioners should diagnose concussions, and the key phrase “when in doubt, sit em out”.
A discussion by Dr. Blaine Hoshizaki was both informative and entertaining. He showed many force graphs and discussed the amount of force required to sustain a concussion. He spoke of how helmets really do very little to reduce concussions, instead they help reduce the incidence of death from head injury. He touched on the fact that rotational force results in more diffuse injury and about how the compliance of a shoulder to the head in hockey actually increases the incidence of concussions. He reiterated Ken Dryden’s belief that if a player has to be in control of his stick, then they should also have to be in control of their shoulder.
The last speaker that I will mention here, is the father of Rowan Stringer, Gordon. Gordon spoke of the life of his daughter and the poor decisions that led to her untimely death. Rowan, a 17 year old rugby player, suffered 3 concussions in less than a week and died from the rare ‘second impact syndrome’. Gordon, not surprisingly, was quite emotional during his speech, but was able to push through and talk about the inquest spearheaded by Dr. Tator. This inquest eventually led to the formation of Rowan’s law which essentially means that there will be a formation of an advisory panel to the Ontario government which will aid in the implementation of the recommendations made by the jury after the inquest. These recommendations include having a concussion protocol and concussion education for all involved in sport (there were a total of 49 recommendations0.
It’s always exciting to be able to escape for a few days and learn some new information (and being in Niagara Falls doesn’t hurt!). Remember the key phrase “when in doubt, sit em out” and if you think that you might’ve suffered a concussion, see your doctor. From there come and see one of our SHIFT certified concussion providers.