• Concussion education in children and youth em...
  • August 19, 2015

    Concussion education in children and youth empowers health decisions for proper recovery

    Holland Bloorview and Bloorview Research Institute pediatric concussion specialists launch handbook to educate families, children and youth on the "invisible injury" and improve health and recovery.  

    Scientists in the Concussion Centre at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital today launched the Concussion & You handbook for children and youth. Pioneered by experts in the field of childhood disability and acquired brain injury and grounded in evidence-based research, the handbook proudly supported by Scotiabank, provides a real-world approach to help Canadians make educated decisions about their own brain health.  

    It is estimated that one in five sport-related injuries are concussions – yet Canadians may be surprised to learn that only about 200,000 concussions are reported each year. That number may reach much higher, as concussions are a largely under-addressed health issue and can occur in many ways – falling during a bike ride, playing a sport, or an everyday mishap. Children and youth live with the invisible injury and experience headaches, dizziness, and confusion among other symptoms, and if left unaddressed, can lead to longer-term symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to light and noise, and irritability.  

    Dr. Michelle Keightley, Senior Clinician Scientist in the Concussion Centre says this handbook is key to making a difference in the overall health and wellbeing of children and youth. "There is a real demand for scientifically-backed, practical solutions to identify concussion signs, symptoms and enable proper recovery," says Keightley. "Physical activity has long been recommended for its numerous benefits to kids – physically, emotionally and mentally – and we want them to be empowered and educated so they can get back to the activities that they love most."  

    It is a common misconception that once the visible symptoms of a concussion dissipate, that a child or youth is ready to get back into physical activities. Yet, an underlying concussion may still exist and if not properly treated, could lead to longer-term and persistent symptoms. Likewise, parents of children or youth that experienced a concussion with no visible signs, risk aggravating the concussion by not knowing what to look for after an incident, and how to help their child heal.  

    "We are delivering what we know is needed most – real, tangible strategies for Canadians to manage their brain health and feel confident doing so," says Keightley. "This handbook addresses a need in the pediatric concussion health system to guide decisions should concussion strike."  

    Concussion amongst youth athletes is a common occurrence, and can result in significant short- and long-term impacts on daily life – from school, to sports and family and social life. Returning to activity too soon after a concussion can result in delayed recovery and impaired performance. And, if a second concussion is experienced before the first one has healed, children and youth may be at risk for a more serious brain injury with life threatening implications.  

    "There is no question that involvement in sports such as hockey is an important component of being physically active and living a healthy lifestyle," says Scott Oakman, Executive Director of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. "The focus should be on ensuring that participants graduate from the sport healthier than when they started playing. Concussion education is important so families know exactly what they should be doing in reaction to an injury."  

    "Being involved with hockey across its full spectrum - youth and adult, recreational, competitive and professional - I've seen first-hand the impact of concussion on the sport," said Jennifer Smith, President, Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association and Director of Marketing and Communications, Canadian Women's Hockey League. "Research and education play a critical role in raising awareness amongst parents, players, coaches and administrators which has led to better recovery outcomes and the opportunity for kids to get back to the things they love. This new resource from Holland Bloorview will be an important part of the education and awareness toolkit."  

    To download your copy of the Concussion & You handbook, please visit: www.hollandbloorview.ca/concussionhandbook