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Latest News October Newsletter

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 26, 2011 10:41

We would like to link you newest newsletter. You can find it here. is an online education and social networking site for the brain injury community in B.C. and beyond - a project of the Pacific Coast Brain Injury Conference Society - supported through the BC Neurotrauma Fund via Rick Hansen Foundation.


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Brain Lab - CBC's The National

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 26, 2011 10:26

The National onf CBC has a segment called Brain Lab. One episode focused on Hits and Head Injuries. We would love you to take a look at it.

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Non-Pharmacological Treatment for Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 25, 2011 16:28

With a growing number of cases of traumatic brain injury among a host of other disorders such as neuropathic pain and cervical headaches, Integrative Medicine has found the only non pharmacological cure in the form of Scenar therapy.

In referring to the promise that the cure holds for troops coming back home from Iraq, Dr. Ron Stram says, “The good news is that Troops are coming home and Scenar Therapy can help. But are we ready to care for the growing number of those troops diagnosed with mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? More than ever, soldiers are facing TBI diagnosis and its associated disability of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our soldiers need alternate approaches for treatment to reduce dependency on opiods and their adverse side effects – and to allow optimal opportunity for reintegration into society.”

But what is Scenar? It’s a hand-held and portable device that sends a small current across one’s skin in order to measure the resistance that the skin has to the current that has been passed. As the intensity and frequency of the current is changed, this prevents nerves from getting accustomed to only one level of stimulation, and is effective from a therapeutic point-of-view.

With the success of this type of therapy and since patients responded positively to this kind of treatment when offered frequently, patients were also given training sessions on home self-treatment so that they could use these devices at home.

Scenar therapy is easy to learn for self-treatment, especially if it’s for focused areas of pain, and according to Dr. Ron Stram, takes only an half an hour session to educate the patient, making it a better choice of therapy as opposed to using opiods.

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Young Athletes at a Heightened Risk of Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 25, 2011 16:23

The number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among young athletes has increased 60% over the last 10 years, federal health regulators warn.   

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report earlier this month, indicating that youths 19 and under face increasing risk of TBIs with increased severity and prolonged recovery when compared to adults. The CDC estimates that minors account for 65% of all sports-related emergency department visits due to concussions and other TBIs.

In 2001, 153,375 young athletes were admitted to emergency rooms across the country for concussions and other sports-related head injuries. But by 2009, that number had climbed to 248,418, according to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). Fatal head injuries were not included in the report. Overall, about 298 youths per 100,000 suffered a head injury in 2009, up from 190 per 100,000 in 2001.

Bicycling and playground activities were the most common cause of TBIs. Other sports which were associated with a large portion of youth TBIs included football, basketball and soccer. Males ages 10 to 19 had the highest rate of injuries.

The CDC recommended that increasing awareness of TBI risks from sports and recreation, as well as employing proper techniques, protective equipment and quickly responding to injuries could reduce the number of TBIs among children as well as their severity and long-term health effects.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a the head injuries each year. Such brain damage often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care. Why the number of injuries has increased among minors was not known.

Athletes are not the only people with a high risk of TBIs.  Motorcycle and automobile accidents account for about 20% of all traumatic brain injuries.



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Former NHL Player and Neurosugeon Talk About Concussion

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 21, 2011 16:12

Head injuries in sports need to stop.

That was something Charles Tator, a leading expert on concussions, and former NHL tough guy George Laraque could both agree on.

The two were at the John George Althouse Auditorium, on Western Road, speaking about the dangers of head injuries during Thursday’s (Oct. 20) conference Violence in Sports: Promotion in the Media.

Tator, a Toronto-based neurosurgeon, opened the discussion by giving people the realities of concussions.

“What treatment do we have for concussions?” Tator asked the audience. “We have no treatment for concussions, zero. We have no pill, we have no medication, we have no remedy and we have no exercise.”

Prevention, Tator added, is the only cure for concussions.

Sports cause 10 to 15 per cent of all brain and spinal injuries in Canada.

“The trauma does not have to be to the head,” Tator said. “If the blow is to the body for example and the head has a whiplash type effect, that could jiggle the brain sufficiently to cause a concussion.”

The easiest way, he said, a sport like hockey can bring down the number of concussions is by changing equipment like large solid elbow pads.

Laraque wore those bulky elbow gaurds in a lot of games during his 13-year career playing professional hockey. In over 130 fights while in the NHL, Laraque wasn’t wearing his gloves a lot of the time.

Laraque, now the Deputy Leader of the Green Party, said fighting wasn’t the issue when it comes to concussions in hockey.

“The real problem is the hits to the head,” he said. “When you fight on the ice you’re on skates and when you’re on skates you’re out of balance. So when you hit somebody in a fight, it’s not as big of a blow as you would think. When you skate 40 km/h and then you hit somebody with a flying elbow, this often causes concussions.”

In all of Laraque’s fights he didn’t receive a single serious head injury. He also doesn’t remember a single boo from the crowd after any of his fights.

He said he never worried about getting hurt while fighting and was always more concerned with the anxiety leading up to a fight.

“The fact that you’re fighting in front of an audience with a lot of people watching you and if you lose too many fights in a row, you can actually lose your job,” Laraque said. “You can be at home eating a happy dinner with your family and then you’re just thinking about the next fight you’re going to have and you can’t focus.”

Ron Wicks, another speaker at the conference, echoed Laraque’s cries for getting rid of hits from behind.

Wicks, a retired NHL referee of 26-years, started officiating before goalie masks became popular.

He had one simple rule to give to hockey players and referee’s to help bring down the number concussions in the sport- play smarter and get control of the game.

“Players need to respect each other more,” he said. “The whole integrity of the game hockey is in the referee’s hands.”

The University of Western (UWO) auditorium was filled with about 400 people, among them 250 delegates from the Thames Valley School Board (TVDSB).

“(Hockey players) are entertaining us,” said Peter Jaffe, a professor at UWO and TVDSB trustee. “But they’re also high school students, they’re also my students, they’re teenagers risking their lives in various ways looking for success.”


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Study of Brain Injury Treatment Effectiveness

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 21, 2011 16:08

Techniques being used to treat psychological lapses from traumatic brain injuries, the signature wounds suffered by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, appear to be helpful, but lack rigorous scientific support, a government-appointed panel reported Tuesday after completing the most comprehensive analysis of the evidence to date.

The report, completed by the Institute of Medicine at the request of the Defense Department, concluded that some specific methods — the use of special daily diaries, for instance, to improve memory — were backed by more evidence than others. But it concluded that the evidence base over all was too thin to support any guidelines for which therapies to provide to whom.

Since 2009, the Pentagon has provided more than 71,000 hours of so-called cognitive rehabilitation, and its insurer, Tricare, has covered an additional 54,000 hours in private clinics for active duty, National Guard and retired service members, according to Cynthia O. Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman.

Such rehabilitation methods have come under intense scrutiny from family members of veterans who suffered traumatic brain injuries, including those caused by nonpenetrating blasts, as well as wounds from bombs, bullets or blows to the head. Some 20 percent of service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered blows to the face, neck or head, and the number of brain injuries has nearly tripled in the past decade, to more than 30,000 from 11,000.

About 1.7 million American civilians each year suffer traumatic brain injury, many from car accidents.

“I think the panel had a slight bias toward wanting these therapies to work, but at the same time it did not overstate the evidence,” said Dr. Jordan Grafman, director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory at the Kessler Foundation Research Center in West Orange, N.J., who was not on the committee.

Dr. Grafman said that applying cognitive rehabilitation techniques, which focus on improving memory, attention and decision making, “is almost a no-lose proposition. It’s like going to school; you should get better at what you practice and you shouldn’t get worse.”

How much better is still an open question.

The expert panel reviewed 90 studies published from 1991 to 2011, involving thousands of patients. Some of their injuries were mild, causing subtle memory deficits; others were severe and disabling. The therapies aimed to improve overall functioning, or to achieve more specific goals, like remembering appointments and chores or organizing and planning tasks.

The panel rated two types of treatment, one focused on memory and the other on social skills, as having a “modest” evidence base. It rated other techniques — for sharpening organizational skills, sustaining focus or improving overall functioning — lower still, with only a hint of evidence to back them up.

Dr. Ira Shoulson, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center and chairman of the expert panel, said that evaluating traumatic brain injury treatment was inherently difficult because the severity of injuries varies so widely, techniques are often tailored to individuals, and veterans in particular come in with compound problems, including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress and depression.

The people providing the therapy — nurses, social workers, doctors, psychologists and, ultimately, family members — also vary from case to case. And the approach for each individual often has several components, leaving scientists to ask which made a difference.

“That’s a lot of moving targets,” Dr. Shoulson said. He and fellow panel members called for larger, better-designed trials that use agreed-upon tools to measure effects — something the field is only just beginning to develop.

Therapies for brain injuries are not well studied “because the whole field is Balkanized,” said Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “Because there’s no infrastructure, no organized plan of attack for what happens after a brain injury, at all stages, you’re simply not going to find many” large, well-designed studies, he said.

As a rule, therapists do not begin intensive cognitive rehabilitation until months after an injury, to give brain tissue a chance to heal. But the underlying molecular processes are not well understood, Dr. Grafman said.


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Radio Interview about Disability

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 21, 2011 15:55

Members of the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability campaign were interviewed.

Please listen to the interview by clicking this link:

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Brain Injury Takes Toll Well After Playing is Over

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 18, 2011 17:02

Recently, I watched with interest as CBC’s “The National” ran an incredibly informative documentary on how physical contact in hockey is affecting the brain function of players long after they retire from the game.
Rick Martin, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming were just some of the players in a study of brain injuries conducted by a Boston medical facility.

Following their deaths, the brains of all three men were donated to the facility, allowing doctors to study the head injuries the three had suffered during their playing days. In each case, those injuries strongly influenced their personalities and daily lives long after their days on the ice were over. In some cases, the early stages of dementia had set in.

Over the course of the past four years, the Boston facility has begun to receive more and more donations of brain material from deceased athletes and their families, all eager to know more about how concussions might have altered their personalities.

As a result, researchers have made quantum leaps in terms of understanding how brain tissue is altered by playing sports such as hockey, football and even professional wrestling.

As I watched the documentary, names flashed through my mind of men who played hockey at a physical level few of us can even imagine. Top of the list was Kevin Maguire, who surrendered to no opponent while playing with the Orillia Travelways in the 1980s, and who went on to play in the National Hockey League with Buffalo and Toronto.
His fights with Probert and others are almost legendary. Ironically, Maguire later returned to the NHL to work as a referee for approximately six seasons.

Closer to home, Ryan Crowther found his career in the Ontario Hockey League cut short by concussions following what seemed like a promising start with the Belleville Bulls.

Any number of players with professional connections have moved in and out of the region, some leaving with more battle scars than others. Andre Benoit, Chris Kontos, Dave Latta, Jason Lafreniere, Tony Hrkac, Guy Jacobs, Ernie Hall, Doug Kirton, Rick Ley, John French, Brett Parnham, Daryl Bat, Dave Wrigley, Claire Alexander and so many more. Thankfully, most of them escaped serious injury on the ice and still lead normal lives today.

But the world of sports often takes a toll, both emotionally and physically. And, as the Boston research lab has shown, the side effects linger long after the equipment comes off.

Part of the reason we are having a discussion about brain injuries and concussions now is because of the lengthy absence of Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup.

His concussion has made him the poster boy for the issue, leading to ramped-up commentary on whether the NHL has become too violent.

I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating. Barring a change of mindset by the NHL brass, I predict a player will die on the ice in the middle of a live broadcast sometime in the next two seasons. And then everyone will be in the midst of soul searching.

It’s not like we haven’t been warned about this before. It has now been determined Bill Masterson was dealing with a head injury leading up to the 1968 incident in which he died after striking his head on the ice while playing with the Minnesota North Stars.

Almost overnight, players began wearing helmets, but the Oakland Seals-North Stars contest was not a game broadcast live across North America.

Had it been a Toronto-Montreal contest in today’s hockey environment, the outcry would have been heard coast to coast.

I pray we never hear it, but, from where I stand, it’s only a matter of time before tragedy strikes.
Then watch the finger pointing begin.


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High School Football Player Died from a Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 18, 2011 17:00

Authorities say a 16-year-old high school football player who died after collapsing during a game suffered bleeding on his brain, apparently from a helmet-to-helmet collision.

Cortland County Coroner Kevin Sharp says Ridge Barden died from a massive subdural hematoma, a traumatic brain injury.

The lineman for John C. Birdlebough High School in the Oswego County village of Phoenix was hurt during Friday night's game at Homer High School, south of Syracuse. Authorities say he was able to sit up after the play but complained of a headache and collapsed when he tried to stand.

Sharp says there's no evidence of any pre-existing injury or condition that contributed to Barden's death.

He says the fatal injury was consistent with the helmet-to-helmet hit reported between Barden and another player.


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Brain Injury Related ER Visits on the Rise

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   October 18, 2011 16:57

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that emergency room visits for sports and recreation-related brain injuries, including concussions, among young people have jumped 60% during the last decade.

Researchers think the primary reason is that more adults made the determination that youngsters needed to be seen by a doctor.

Researchers call the injuries traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. From 2001 to 2009, the number rose from 153,375 to 248,418 nationwide.

There was no breakdown by state.

Injuries among males most often occurred playing football or bicycling. Females suffered injuries most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling.

Bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer were the primary sports involved.

Kevin Walter, program director of pediatric and adolescent sports medicine at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, said the CDC's numbers did not surprise him.

"There's more awareness these days that it can be a significant injury, and there are simply more concussions now because kids are getting involved with contact sports at an earlier age," he said.

According to the CDC report, most of the visits to hospital emergency rooms were by males (71%). A total of 70.5% of the visits were among young people ages 10 to 19. Children up to 9 years old tended to be injured while playing on the playground or while bicycling.

Researchers have found that young athletes who had a traumatic brain injury experience longer recovery times and are at greater risk of serious outcomes compared with adults.

"TBI symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to significant lifelong impairment affecting an individual's memory, behavior, learning and/or emotions," the CDC reported.

"In reality, brain injuries are still underreported and unrecognized," Walter said.

Recently, the Wisconsin Assembly Education Committee heard testimony in favor of a bill that would require young athletes who might have suffered a concussion or head injury to leave the game or activity immediately.

That athlete could not return until he or she is evaluated by a health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions or head injuries and has written permission to return to play.

The bill would cover any organized athletic activity for young people between the ages of 11 and 19.

The bill has bipartisan support.


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