Blog Author: Andrew Robb Posted: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 08:57
Concussion and its impact on neurological health is a hot topic both in the medical and popular literature--though not so hot when it happens to you. As a varsity athlete, coach, and a kinesiology student, I thought I had a basic understanding of concussions--if you got your “bell rung” badly enough to black out, then you should take a week or two off.
In 2009 when I had my first hockey concussion (while coaching a local peewee team) I did just that. After being checked out at emergency, I took 2 weeks off hockey. I was able to go for a serious hill run without any problems after the first week, so when I returned to playing hockey after the second week, I thought I was golden.
My second concussion later that month (while playing in a noncontact men’s league) left me sidelined from all sport for over 2 years--and has significantly impacted my academics, job opportunities, and all other aspects of my life since. When considering a topic for my honors research, concussion treatment was the natural choice as a research focus.
What do we know?
The most recent data from the Canadian National Health Population Survey  estimated the annual prevalence of concussions being over 110 per 100 000 Canadians; roughly 37 900 concussions per year, with over 54% of these being sport-related.
After a concussion, the injured brain may be vulnerable to further injury if another trauma is sustained, and any subsequent impact during this period of vulnerability may lead to severe cerebral edema with potentially catastrophic neurological outcomes. Epidemiological studies have also reported an association between repeated sports concussions and late-life cognitive impairment.
How do physicians manage concussions?
Many standardized symptom scales and assessment tools have been developed with the goal of assisting the physician with these tasks. There is a growing emphasis in the literature on increasing the objectivity of concussion assessment and, whenever possible, using objective preparticipation baseline assessments as a basis for postinjury comparison.
Research also suggests that every concussed athlete should be evaluated by a medical doctor, as physicians are essential in diagnosing, treating, and managing concussion, and in working with athletes to establish return to play steps. My intention with this research is to explore the methods most commonly used by physicians in diagnosing and managing concussions.
Why is this research important?
It will assist in determining the extent of physician familiarity with this injury and the most current management practices. Depending on the outcomes, it may point to the need for more educational support to ensure that concussion management practices are as effective as possible.
How you can participate
A web link is provided below and you may complete the survey online at your convenience. The survey (including consent form) should take 10 minutes or less to complete. Should you prefer to complete the survey via phone or hard copy, please contact me or my supervisor.
Andrew Robb is a kinesiology honors student in the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education at the University of Victoria. If you have any questions about the research, please contact: Andrew Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 250 885-8257, or the researcher’s supervisor Dr Geraldine Van Gyn at email@example.com  or 250 721-8381.