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Regina Brain Boogie Article in Regina Leader-Post

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   September 10, 2012 09:28

Nicole Wall could have felt angry and cheated out of her childhood when her mother and father suffered brain aneurysms. Instead, she stepped in to help her parents on the long road to recovery.

Nicole was 13 when her mom, Monica Wall, had an aneurysm 10 years ago. Three years ago, Nicole’s dad, Kim, suffered three aneurysms — one which is inoperable. He manages the condition with medication and by staying fit.

“They both needed emergency surgeries to save their lives,” Nicole said. “My dad’s neurosurgeon said he’s never seen a husband and wife have aneurysms and survive.

“Our family dynamic changed a whole bunch especially when my mom got sick. I took on a mom role with my little brother because my mom was in the hospital for almost a year. She’s never returned to work, never got her driver’s licence again, but she’s still here every day and I love her dearly. My dad has been lucky enough to go back to work and gone on to be a provincial mountain bike gold medalist. He’s a champ and I love him too.”

Nicole is on the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA) and helped to organize the Brain Boogie — Positive Steps in Motion walk-a-thon held Saturday morning in Wascana Centre.

According to the association, acquired brain injury (ABI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults worldwide. Approximately 70 per cent of survivors are between 18 and 28 years. Every year, more than 2,200 Saskatchewan people sustain a serious brain injury — most are young.

“I just want to get youth and young people in our community involved to hopefully prevent some of these brain injuries from happening,” Nicole said.

Monica was among more than 80 people participating in the walk. The 53-year-old credits the SBIA for providing her with a lot of moral support.

“It’s been a long road to recovery,” Monica said. “It left me with vision difficulties, hearing difficulties and I have a lot of cognitive problems, but I’m very fortunate that I’m up and walking.”

According to the SBIA, half of all brain injuries are the result of motor vehicle collisions. The rest are caused by sport injuries, work-related injuries, assault, falls, illness or firearms.

Gord Fisher injured his brain when he was three weeks old and thrown out of a vehicle that rolled three times.

“When people drive, they should slow down or when you play football, don’t hammer your head on other heads,” Fisher said.

The 45-year-old Reginan collected $3,768.21 in pledges for this year’s Brain Boogie.

“I went door to door to door raising money,” he said. “It’s something I like doing.”

The Brain Boogie was also held in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Yorkon on Saturday. More information about the association is available at www.sbia.ca or by calling toll free: 1-888-373-1555.

Funds from the walk support local and provincial programs for brain injury survivors and their families.

“This is the kickoff to our fall programs,” said Glenda James, executive director of the SBIA. “There are about 56,000 brain injuries in Canada each year and that’s cumulative. A brain injury never ends, it’s lifelong. Prevention is the only cure so our organization strives to prevent brain injuries, but also to make sure that the quality of life for brain injury survivors is improved.”

Article found in the Leader-Post

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BIAC Newsletter - August 2012

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 24, 2012 10:00

BIAC has released the August 2012 edition of their Impact Newsletter. Catch up on all the things the national organization is doing!

Full Edition: Impact-August 2012.pdf (2.14 mb)

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Newsletter | Support the Cause

How does brain injury affect other family members?

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 23, 2012 10:00

Brain injured people often experience a change in personality following their injury and this can be difficult for the injured person’s family to adjust to.

On 28th June representatives from Pannone LLP attended the British Association of Brain Injury Case Managers (BABICM) Summer Conference in Bristol. The focus of the conference this year was “Relationships after head injury”, and we were lucky enough to hear from Professor Jeffrey S. Kreutzer who was visiting from Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Professor Kreutzer spoke about “The Impact of Brain Injury on Family Relationships” This talk highlighted common problems experienced by the family of a brain injured person, such as feeling trapped or isolated, feeling that other family members are criticising the care that is given to the brain injured person, and feeling misunderstood. It was emphasised that role changes will inevitably take place in the family when an adult becomes dependant or less responsible, and that the care-giver must ensure they take care of themselves in order to continue giving good care to the brain injured relative.

Professor Kreutzer shared some surprising research findings on the effect that traumatic brain injury (TBI) has on family members, for example, 79% of the wives of someone with TBI identify themselves as suffering from depression, with 32% feeling that they are married to a stranger. (Mauss-Clum & Ryan) The talk highlighted the most frequent problems reported by relatives at 5 years post injury as being violence, temper, irritability, memory problems, slowness and personality change.

Professor Kreutzer went on to outline the Brain Injury Family Intervention Program that he is implementing with his patients and their families. The goals of this program include helping families to better understand how brain injury has affected each member of the family, teaching effective problem solving strategies and communication skills, and identifying progress and personal strengths. Each family member completes a family change questionnaire in order to identify how the brain injury has affected them and their role within the family. Feedback from families was very positive and it certainly seems that this program is an invaluable tool that could also be used to support the families of brain injured individuals in the UK and elsewhere.

Article from Pannone Blog

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Connections: Summer 2012

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   August 22, 2012 09:39

 

Check out the latest edition of Connections, our quarterly newsletter!

Inside you'll find the report from this year's Survivor and Family Camp, as well as some great pictures from the event. You will also find the AGM report with an excerpt from our Annual Report, and a list of this year's board members.

There are also some great upcoming events highlighted including the BIAC National Conference!

Full Edition: summer 2012-colour.pdf (1.02 mb)

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Newsletter

Connections: Spring 2012

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 8, 2012 11:48

Check the latest edition of Connections. Inside you'll find reports and photos from our Spring Retreat and Brain Blitz weekend. There is also information regarding upcoming events including: Bike Safety Week, Camp, Walk-a-Thon, and our Take Brain Injury Out of Play campaign. Be sure to check it out and share it with your friends!

 


Connections-Spring 2012.pdf (1.07 mb)

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Ken Dryden talks Head Shots in Hockey

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 1, 2012 16:27

It was the Stanley Cup final, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, 1964. The game was in Toronto.

Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower was 39. He had kicked around the minor leagues almost all his professional career but everyone knew he would do anything to stop shots, even put his maskless face in front of them. In the last few years he had earned his chance.

Gordie Howe had always been great. He had the hands to score, the elbows and attitude to command the corners, and the fists to embarrass anyone foolish enough to take him on. He was 36.

Bower and Howe were both from Saskatchewan, Bower from Prince Albert, Howe from Floral. They had fished together. They were great competitors.

The puck was shot into the corner in the Leafs’ zone. Bower moved toward the puck uncertainly, leaving himself exposed from behind. Howe bore down toward the puck. Howe, the toughest guy around, could’ve plastered Bower’s head against the glass, perhaps deciding the Cup.

Instead, he yelled: “Look out, John, I’m behind you.”

The Leafs won the Cup. I was 16, living in Toronto. I read the story the next day in the newspaper. Howe’s “Look out, John” comes to me 48 years later.

It was the third game of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes, 2012. Raffi Torres of the Coyotes crashes into the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa.

It was the perfect moment for a brain-rattling hit. Hossa didn’t see Torres coming. He had no reason to see him coming. He didn’t have the puck. He had every right to assume he was in no danger. So he let down his guard. It was Torres’s moment.

Torres did what he did not because it was survival but because the weak have it coming to them. He had been taught – if they have their head down or their eyes away from the play. And because he’d started toward Hossa while Hossa still had the puck, or almost still had the puck, Torres could say he was “just finishing his check.” That it was “just a late hit.” Torres crushed Hossa because he could.

It was the sixth game of the Coyotes-Blackhawks series, the third period. Michal Rozsival for the Coyotes was carrying the puck behind his own net, chased by Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews. Coming from the other side of the net was Chicago forward Andrew Shaw. Four games earlier Shaw had hit Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the jaw with his shoulder as Shaw had turned behind the Coyotes’ net, sending Smith spinning to the ice. Smith was shaken, but continued. Shaw was suspended for three games.

This was Shaw’s first game back. Rozsival didn’t see Shaw coming. Shaw could’ve launched himself into Rozsival’s head the way Torres had into Hossa’s. But he didn’t. He hit Rozsival solidly in the chest with his shoulder. The puck went loose. Maybe Shaw let up because he had still in his mind his three-game suspension. Maybe Shaw realized it was his job to create a scoring chance, not to maim.

I love the first round of the playoffs. Everything is fresh, everything is possible. First seeds play eighth seeds that are just as able to win as they are. Upsets happen. By the last two rounds especially, when even the unworldly energy of the underdog seems to flag, talent tends to win out and the outcomes become more predictable. In the first round there are also games everywhere on the digital box, time zone after time zone. If the games don’t quite blend into each other, the emotions of them do. Every next game in a night seems more exciting because of the last one. Every next game seems more out of control because the last one was.

This year’s first round felt like a giant primal scream. The scream began when Nashville’s Shea Weber rammed the head of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg into the glass. It picked up volume after the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin took out Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, culminated with the Torres hit and in the days that passed before his final suspension was announced. By then, things seemed different than they had ever been before. You could hear it in the intensity of the talk on sports channels, on mainstream channels, in newspapers, and on the streets. Players going down one after another! What’s going on here?

The talk wasn’t just about which player was a disgrace or what coach should be fired, but the violence that seemed deep in the game itself. Yet people were watching. TV ratings were up. One writer explained that it was because of our fundamental human love of violence. But for most, it was simpler. The unimaginable was happening in front of our eyes every night; we couldn’t not watch to see what would happen next.

Then one moment chilled my spine. It was the reported words of some of the coaches saying if the NHL isn’t going to do something, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. But if they take it into their own hands, how far does that go?

Players commit themselves to their teammates and to their teams. It’s what they love about their teammates, and what their teammates love about them. It’s what the fans love about them too. If these players are asked to do more, they will do more. Yet something keeps them from committing to what they shouldn’t commit. In the 1980s, if opponents of the Edmonton Oilers had truly done everything to win the Cup, they would’ve gone after Wayne Gretzky’s head. It wasn’t Gretzky’s enforcer teammate, Dave Semenko, who stopped them, nor the referees nor the league officials and the suspensions they would have levied. The players wouldn’t do it. Some basic humanity, some basic belief in the essence of a game holds us back.

That all seemed on shaky ground in the first round this year. In this atmosphere, if the teams were to do it themselves and not wait for the league, it might mean not just a fist for a fist but a head-shot for a head-shot. This after news of the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty” on opponents to injure them, and the curdling words of Saints assistant coach, Gregg Williams, about a San Francisco 49ers running back: “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.” Where are we going? Is there anything we won’t do?

Now, with fewer games to build up the collective temperature, and with the consequences clearer – of the injuries more so than the suspensions – maybe things will settle down. Maybe they will revert to teeth-gritting, eyes-popping normal playoff intensity.

Don Cherry likes to talk about how the implementation of the instigator rule changed the game. Teams had employed enforcers to protect their star players but, with the new rule, enforcers might draw an extra penalty as “instigators” when they intervened. This proved too high a price for teams to accept, star players went unprotected and, according to Cherry, made them increasingly open to abuse and injury, throwing the game out of control. But control doesn’t come only from enforcers like Semenko. The league could act as its own enforcer, to shut down the most dangerous and exaggerated aspects of its play. This it could have done. Make no mistake: in round one it wasn’t the league as enforcer that settled things down. Brendan Shanahan’s 25-game suspension of Raffi Torres was shooting a fish in a barrel. The real enforcer was the public. They’d had it and they said so. They don’t believe Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower are wusses.

Article from The Globe and Mail

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Ken Dryden | News

Ken Dryden Talks Brain Injury in Hockey

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   April 15, 2012 13:31

What Ken Dryden saw on the first night of the Stanley Cup playoffs is evidence that the NHL isn't taking a strong enough stance against blows delivered to the head.

As the final buzzer sounded to end Game 1 of the Western Conference quarter-final series between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings, Preds captain Shea Weber hit Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg from behind, before grabbing his head and slamming it into the glass.

Weber was issued a twominute roughing penalty, which he didn't serve because Nashville had completed a 3-2 victory, and was fined $2,500 - the maximum amount permitted under the collective bargaining agreement - but was not suspended.

"It's ones like that that are totally disturbing," said the Hall of Fame goaltender, who won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens.

"It turns out that Zetterberg is OK - it seems. There's no inevitably to that. In the nature of that kind of hit, he could be out for a couple of months.

"A hit to the head is an intent to injure (play). That's what it is. Even if Shea Weber is a terrific player, a good guy, all of those other things, that's fine and it's good for him. But that doesn't mean good guys don't do lousy things. By what he did to Zetterberg, he put Zetterberg's future in question by doing that.

"That's serious stuff. At what point do you stop making excuses for it and see it as it exactly is?"

Dryden is the keynote speaker at a pair of Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association concussion symposiums in Regina on April 27 and in Saskatoon on April 28.

The Saskatoon event will be more of a gala in nature, while the night in Regina will feature doctors, researchers, doctors and athletes returning to play from concussions.

The goal each symposium is to create an open dialogue, thus creating more awareness about how to prevent and properly diagnose head injuries.

"Nobody individually has a confident, clear answer as to what to do," said Dryden, who now teaches at Montreal's McGill University - his Alma mater.

"But what we do know is this is something that's not bad luck. It's not something that next week will be different. It's an ongoing question and an ongoing problem. So start into it."

Dryden said he became interested in helping address the issues surrounding concussions after reading many obituaries of deceased football players who struggled to cope with "life consequences" in the final years of their lives because of injuries sustained on the field.

On the ice, Dryden watched as Sidney Crosby was sidelined for the better part of 14 months after concussion and neck issues. But he also cited a who's who of the game's great talents that were shelved as an impetus behind getting involved.

"At a certain point what happens is that it's less the individual name and more the volume of names," said the former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager. "There have been stretches during the season where you say to yourself, 'This is unbelievable.' Each night on the sports (cast) there's somebody new that's gone down."

The biggest problem Dryden sees is there is a disconnect between what's permissible in the NHL compared to minor hockey.

Hockey Canada instituted a new rule before the 201112 season stating that any contact to the head will be punished with a four-minute double minor penalty.

During the latest concussion symposium he attended in Peterborough, Ont., last month, Dryden was told that officials had become "gun shy" to levy the penalty because of increased backslash from parents.

"If there are things that are acceptable in the NHL, for a lot of parents at a lot of those crunch moments, they seem acceptable at any level," said Dryden. "There's no doubt about it. What happens in the NHL affects what happens in Regina.

"I think there is a gap there. It makes it that much harder for Hockey Canada and other local hockey associations to do as well as they need to do."

Dryden said he believes he's suffered two mild concussions in his life - one was when he was hit during a football game when he was 12 years old and the other occurred when he was skateboarding with his son years ago.

He said the most intriguing part of the symposiums is listening to young athletes who have had to miss significant time from their favourite sport and then spent years dealing with the residual recovery.

"Those are lost years, but those are not lost years to everybody else around you," said Dryden. "Every other 14-year-old around you is doing and experiencing.

" ... After three or four years, you start to feel a little bit better, but you've lost those three or four years and you're in a very different place than your friends. Out-for-a-year is a very easy phrase that trots off your tongue, but it's inside those words where the real impact is."

So learning about the symptoms of concussions and addressing the lasting lingering impacts is essential, said Dryden.

While the NHL should take the lead, Dryden said various organizations like the NHLPA, the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada must also play leading roles to solve the problems at hand.

"The only pointing a finger that matters is that you don't point them at each other, you point them at the issue," he said. "You need every set of fingers pointed at the issue.

"The NHL is in a bind over this. OK, that's fine, so try to find an answer out of that bind. It matters too much. It matters to the NHL, it matters to the players, it matters to minor hockey players and it matters to hockey."

Article from The Star Phoenix

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Ken Dryden | News

Brain Injury Prevention this Spring/Summer

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 29, 2012 16:29

With Spring and Summer fast approaching, we are sharing some tips to keep you and your children safe.

PREVENTION is the only known cure for brain injury!

Brain Injury Association of Michigan President shares how to help protect children from harm by following these selected seasonal safety facts from the Brain Injury Association of America’s seasonal brochures:

Spring

  • Bicycle incidents are most likely to occur within five blocks of home. Teach by example. A bicycle helmet is a necessity not an accessory.
  • Baseball has the least amount of safety equipment required of any youth sport. Check that your child’s baseball helmet meets standards of the national Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
  • Falls are the most common cause of playground injuries. Check the surface under playground equipment. Avoid asphalt concrete, grass and soil surfaces. Look for surfaces with shredded mulch, pea gravel, crushed stone and other loose surfaces.
  • Two-thirds of all-terrain vehicle accidents have involved children under 16 years old. Model safe behavior by always wearing helmets with face protection and protective clothing.
  • Brain injuries occur when skaters fall and hit their heads on the pavement. Wear a helmet for protection against falls.
  • Brain injury is the leading cause of death among children hit by cars. Always stop at the curb or edge of the road; never run into the street.

Summer

  • Most children who survive drowning are found within two minutes of being under water; most who die are found after 10 minutes or longer. Always supervise your child around water.
  • Alcohol use is a leading factor in boating incidents and deaths. Stop your child from riding in a boat with anyone who has been drinking alcohol.
  • A bicyclist who is wearing a helmet is less likely to die, be seriously injured or become disabled if hit by a car. Buy a helmet that meets the safety standards of ANSI , Snell or ASTM. Tighten chin strap to keep helmets from slipping forward or backward. Only two fingers should fit under the chin strap Place the helmet directly over the forehead.
  • Screens are designed to keep out bugs, not to keep in children. Install child safety window guards

Link to article

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News

A Brother Reflects on the Loss of his Brother

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 22, 2012 17:12

Article by: Sheldon Kenny

This past November I lost my brother Lyndon Kenny to suicide.

Lyndon was a very good hockey player. He was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and he was not only a highly-skilled defenceman and strong skater, but also the toughest person I have ever known.

His ability to scare opponents and produce game-changing hits and fights was unparalleled for someone of his age.

Unfortunately, this enforcer style of play made my brother vulnerable to multiple concussions and, therefore, more susceptible to depression.

Enforcers are the designated tough guys on a hockey team. Players in this role often struggle with depression not only because they suffer numerous and severe head injuries, but also because they must deal with the pressure of fighting almost every game in order to keep their spot in the lineup.

Lyndon was no exception.

My brother became addicted to alcohol and drugs at an early age. His addictions carried on through most of his life, even with multiple stints in rehab centres.

He was not a drug addict like those on TV shows, though. He hardly let it show in his personal life. He was the most loving and caring person I knew and was constantly looking out for others.

He struggled to explain his problems to me and our family, however, and for a long time he turned away from those closest to him — as the archetypal tough guy, he tried to cope with his struggles alone.

It was only recently that Lyndon came to understand that he needed help. He began to open up to our family and made an effort to guide me down a better path of life than he had taken.

He had been drug- and alcohol-free for two months before he took his own life on Nov. 1.

The depression and anxiety proved too much for him.

Only a few weeks before his death, Lyndon left a comment on a sports medicine website indicating his struggles.

“I’m 27 and have been on a serious decline since [my] early to mid teens,” my brother wrote.

“I have had hundreds of blows to my head since I was around age five. Most occurred from my reckless style of hockey throughout my teens. Here’s a list of symptoms I have — Lack or loss of knowledge, insight, judgement, self, purpose, personality, intelligence, opinion, reasoning, train of thought, motivation, relationships, thinking, humour, ability to process information and learn, organize, planning, communicating, finding speech, decision making, visualizing, interest, sensitive to sound, ears ring, trouble sleeping, head aches, PCS [Post Concussion Syndrome] etc.”

Lyndon’s comment ended with an appeal: “Protect yourselves and loved ones! What a scary situation. I feel so bad for my family.”

His final wish came in the form of an unsent text message intended for me. Lyndon wanted to have his brain donated to research at the Boston University School of Medicine so we could have the answers he had sought for years.

Concussed

A concussion is defined as a short-lived loss of brain function due to head trauma. A direct blow to the head is not required to sustain a concussion; any sudden and jolting motion to the body that causes the brain to move around inside the skull can do the same.

For a concussion to occur the brain must bump against the skull, which can cause bruising. In some cases the brain will rotate inside the skull, and when it rubs against the bony surface of the skull it can shear off brain nerve fibres. In all cases there are no visible injuries to the brain that an MRI or CT scan can detect.

In addition to blurry vision, dizziness and confusion, the symptoms can be much worse: difficulty sleeping, a sensitivity to noise and light, nausea, ringing in the ears, trouble concentrating, difficulty tolerating alcohol or stress, difficulty speaking, communicating or understanding instructions, long- or short-term memory loss and a decreased sex drive.

People suffering the after-effects of concussions can also exhibit changes in behaviour including aggression, stubbornness, anxiety and depression. These effects may be noticed for a week or more after a concussion, but with Post Concussion Syndrome one might deal with the effects for months depending on the severity and treatment of the concussion.

With each concussion suffered it becomes easier to sustain another, and with multiple concussions the symptoms and side effects become more obvious.

With repeated head injuries, one can develop CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Lyndon was adamant that he suffered from CTE.

He knew everything about it and the pursuit of the answers he needed led him to many medical professionals who could have helped him. However, he was extremely frustrated by every doctor’s complete refusal of his claims and he was angry with himself because he felt like he could not explain to them exactly how he was feeling.

It has recently been released that legendary professional hockey players Bob Probert and Derek Boogaard both suffered from extreme cases of CTE, which is no doubt directly related to their roles as enforcers.

When a team needs something to give them a momentum boost, enforcers are counted upon to go out and get a big hit or to get in a fight. This physical playing style leads to more blows to the head, resulting in concussions.

But the evidence does not stop with Probert and Boogaard. Rick Rypien and Wade Belak both committed suicide this past summer after lengthy battles with depression. Both players played a tough game and they no doubt suffered many concussions.

While we have yet to hear the results of the tests performed on Lyndon’s brain at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in Boston, it is obvious looking back at all the conversations we had and the symptoms he listed that he had battled with CTE for a long time.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease most commonly found in athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. It is a variant of dementia with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, and may appear months or years after initial trauma — unlike Alzheimer’s, however, it does not develop genetically.

It’s uncertain how many concussive injuries it takes to develop this brain deterioration, how severe the concussions must be for symptoms to begin and how long it takes symptoms to start developing.

Upon studying the brains of deceased individuals, researchers have diagnosed CTE as black spots on the brain tissue, which is the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. Poor recovery of head trauma is linked to this protein when it is found in excess in the fluid that surrounds the brain.

Sadly, there is no known way to reverse the effects of concussions. Even sadder is the fact that CTE can only be diagnosed after death.

As of 2009, only 49 cases of CTE have been researched and published by medical journals.

However, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which was founded in 2008, recently began a clinical study of over 150 former NFL athletes aged 40-69 and 50 athletes of non-contact sports of the same age, all of which are still alive and participating in sport. The goal of the study is to develop methods to diagnose CTE before death, which can hopefully lead to a cure in the future.

The Future

After witnessing my brother go through all he did, all I want is to see a higher level of understanding for concussions. They are deadly.

The cultures of all sports, not just hockey, need to change to adjust for this growing problem. Most importantly, the stigma of being the one to leave a game due to a concussion needs to stop because, in hindsight, the ones who take a step back and admit that there is something wrong are the tough ones.

I would be lying if I said I was not scared for myself.

I’ve played a lot of hockey in my life, have suffered a number of hard hits to the head and have been knocked unconscious twice.

In the past few years I have dealt with depression and anxiety and, although it can’t be proven, the fact that they may be a result of my concussions is a very real possibility.

I have also started to notice that I am dealing with some of the same symptoms that my brother felt he was experiencing. I have noticed a loss of personality, intelligence, motivation and humour. My ability to learn and communicate has decreased and I have had trouble sleeping.

I hope for my own and my family’s sake that I am simply reacting to the loss of my brother, but right now I cannot be certain.

Article from the Sheaf

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News

The Relational Impact of Brain Injury

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 16, 2012 09:49

Gabrielle Giffords is on a remarkable journey of recovery -- and her husband is on it with her. In January 2012, she resigned from Congress. But many Americans have been inspired with the courage and determination she has demonstrated during her recovery. Just one year ago, the Congresswoman suffered gunshot wounds to the head and a severe traumatic brain injury as the result of a shooting rampage.

Although Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark E. Kelly, have spoken about her progress with regard to physical recovery, they have kept private regarding how her brain injury has impacted their personal relationship. With so much emphasis on survival and physical recovery after a brain injury, sometimes the aspects of emotional recovery and strains in personal relationships can be overlooked. According to a recent New York Times article, besides the physical challenges a brain injured person faces, differences in personality and mood can be significant. Sarah Wheaton writing for the Times explained, "Doctors frequently warn uninjured spouses that that the marriage may well be over, that the personality changes that can result from the brain injury may do irreparable harm to the relationship."

Marriage and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Despite these words of caution, many marriages continue after one spouse experiences a traumatic brain injury. Multiple studies have found such couples have divorce rates under the national average. Unfortunately, however, couples may still be unhappy and sticking together out of a sense of obligation or guilt rather than true love.

Psychologist Jeffrey S. Kreutzer from Virginia Commonwealth University explained, "While people may technically be married, the quality of their relationship has been seriously diminished." Dr. Kreutzer is among a group of psychologists pioneering marriage counseling techniques aimed at helping couples cope with brain injury.

Couples are taught communication strategies and encouraged to make time for one another in between doctors' appointments and physical rehabilitation. Additionally, couples need to be reminded to look forward rather than backward, because the relationship will likely never be the same as when they first met. The uninjured spouse often needs to learn how to accept that they may now be in a relationship with a very different person, and the injured spouse needs to accept the changes within himself or herself. This can be challenging for both spouses no matter how much they are focused on cultivating a healthy relationship.

One woman whose husband experienced a traumatic brain injury explained that her husband lost the sparkle she loved and "flat-lined" emotionally. Her husband told her, "I'm not the person you married," and that she was "free to leave." She felt lonely in the role of caregiver rather than wife.

Although there have been setbacks, counseling has helped the couple rebuild their relationship and set appropriate expectations. Hopefully with new attention and research focused on the issue, more couples impacted by brain injury will have similar success.

Article from Digital Journal

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News