CFL and NFL players raising funds for concussion research
Published Tuesday, January 24, 2017 8:52PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 24, 2017 9:01PM EST
A car crash, a skiing accident, a fall on an icy sidewalk -- all can lead to a concussion.
So can a hit in a football game.
"We want the public to be aware and to be educated and to know about concussions and know how to recognize concussions," said Dr. Alain Ptito of the Montreal Neurological Institute.
But the attitude that a brain injury can be ignored is changing.
Montreal Alouettes linebacker Nicolas Boulay said there is no glory in being injured and playing through it.
"It used to be a kind of toughness thing right, you get knocked out, you get back up, let's see if you're tough. Now we're aware of the dangers of concussions," said Boulay.
He knows the effects firsthand, having been the victim of two concussions.
"Playing soccer I got kneed in the side of the head and got concussed and knocked out and came back to my senses right away. Luckily I didn't have any symptoms afterwards," Boulay said.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs (and a fourth year medical student at McGill University) says professional sports now employ spotters to watch for players with concussion symptoms.
Players are also learning new techniques.
"They're starting now to coach and teach more and more the rugby tackling style, where you get your head out of the contact and you tackle with your chest and shoulders and you avoid those hits to your head," said Duvernay-Tardif.
Concussions, which can still be a common occurrence in everyday life are the topic of substantial amounts of research but there are many unanswered questions, such as why 20 percent of people who get a concussion suffer long-term problems.
"The research becomes interesting to see whether there is some kind of genetic predisposition for people to have lingering symptoms," said Dr. Ptito.
There is evidence that women and children take longer to recover from concussions, but the reason why is unknown.
The Neurological Institute is investigating new diagnostic techniques, but is struggling to get sufficient funding.
"It's important because we're dealing with a very high rate of concussions today, we're talking about 600 per 100, 000 in the population," said Dr. Ptito.
In a bid to raise awareness and funds, Boulay, along with other athletes and researchers, will be a special guest Friday at a Neurological Institute fundraiser.
"They've taken it on as part of their work. Not only do they play but they also help to educate people about the dangers of concussions and I think this is a fantastic way to play a sport," said Dr. Ptito.
The Meet and Greet the Pros cocktail is Jan. 27, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Love Competition Hall in the McGill Sports Centre.
Tickets are $175 and a tax receipt will be issued for part of the cost.
They can be purchased in advance by contacting Jesse Radz at 514-398-1248 or by email at email@example.com.