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Jim Hopson, former President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders to speak at the Brain Blitz Gala

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 29, 2016 12:39

We are so excited to announce Jim Hopson, Saskatchewan Roughrider team president  will be the guest speaker at Brain Blitz Gala on Saturday, May 7 at TCU Place in Saskatoon.


Tickets are available at www.sbia.ca/brain-blitz.aspx

Jim hopson - Press Release - March29 2016 Brain Blitz Gala.pdf (290.78 kb)

LINK BETWEEN FOOTBALL AND DEGENERATIVE BRAIN DISORDERS LIKE CTE

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 15, 2016 15:43

Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety, finally acknowledged for the first time that football has been linked to a degenerative brain disease.

This comes during Brain Awareness Month. ‪#‎concussions‬ ‪#‎preventionistheonlycure‬ ‪#‎SBIA‬

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4584960/nfl-cte

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Anthony Calvillo autographed footballs up for auction

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 2, 2015 17:17
Anthony Calvillo, three time Grey Cup winning quarterback, took some time to meet with Aimy Thiessen,
Brain Blitz committee volunteer and sign a couple of footballs.

For a chance to bid on one of these autographed balls, come to The Brain Blitz presented by
WorkSafe Saskatchewan.

Get your tickets at www.sbia.ca/brain-blitz.aspx.

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Community Event with Matt Dunigan and Graeme Bell

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 1, 2014 14:06

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News | Support the Cause

From CBC: Brutal Attack in Hockey in B.C.

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   June 17, 2013 18:33

Here is an article about an incident in BC - it again showcases the need to install respect for not only your own brain and health, but you need to respect other players, as well. Much of the behaviour mentioned in the article is unnecessary and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Click for the CBC Article

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News

Connections: June 2013

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   June 4, 2013 14:53

Check out our June 2013 e-newsletter!

Click here

 

 

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News | Newsletter

Concussions: Life or Death

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   May 27, 2013 11:05

Head Injury Game-Changer for Star Football Player

Story by: Joelle Tomlinson

 

Katie Miyazaki is all too familiar with what being hit in the head feels like. It’s not pleasant, it’s a danger in sports and it can have lasting consequences.

“Diagnosed concussions? I’ve had five that put me out for a few weeks each time,” said Miyazaki, all-star alumni of the University of Saskatchewan women’s basketball team and a former Valkyries football player. “The first one I got was when I was 12 and playing hockey. I ran into a girl. I got up, saw stars and had no idea what was happening, so I just kept playing. The next was one was about two years later in net, the third one was playing dodge ball in physical education.  I got blindsided by a ball . . . and the list goes on.”

Miyazaki almost always kept playing after the constant hits to the head. She has experienced headaches, dizziness and nausea, and only stopped playing tackle football last year after her worst concussion ever.

“This last one was in our Prairie Conference final against Regina, and I knew exactly where the hit was, and that I most likely had a concussion, but I just didn’t want to come out of the game. So I kept playing and I got hit again later in the same game,” said Miyazaki. “I was pretty sure I was concussed, but then the next day I woke up and was like, ‘Oh, I feel good!’ Then, the following day I woke up and I had never felt that sick before. I couldn’t leave my room, everything felt like it was spinning, I was nauseous, but yet part of me still wanted to play that week. If my trainers hadn’t said no, and if my coach hadn’t said no, I would have played, which is a pretty bad idea in retrospect.”

Dropping out of the game wasn’t an easy decision for Miyazaki. A star athlete, Miyazaki led the Huskies to a second-place finish in the CIS championships in 2011 and a sixth-place finish in 2012. After that, she transitioned into football, where she shone as a defensive back with the Valkyries, helping them during undefeated runs to the 2011 and 2012 Western Women’s Canadian Football League championships. Miyazaki also was picked as one of 92 players to attend the training camp for Team Canada. Those selected at the camp will represent Canada at the 2013 women’s world tackle football championships in New Brunswick.

“That’s definitely what hurt the most, and what I cried over the most. I had debated not playing football last summer, but then there was the whole Team Canada thing,” said Miyazaki. “When I found out about Team Canada, that’s what my whole summer was geared toward. I wanted to make it to that camp and make that team for this summer. It bummed me out when I knew I couldn’t play at the first camp, and I thought that dream was over. Then, I was invited to the second camp, and I was still wasn’t quite better by then. It sucks because it feels like you’re giving up on a dream, but at the same time you’re like ‘This is real life. I have a lot of other things.’ As cool as it would be, it’s life or death.”

Sometimes it is death. Last week, 17-year-old Rowan Stringer, a female rugby player in Ottawa, died after receiving a severe head injury in a game. Miyazaki says that lack of awareness is one of the biggest issues for young athletes, parents and coaches in cases like this.

“Athletes, they just want to play. The kids I coach, they always want to play and unless you tell them no, they’re going to keep going,” said Miyazaki. “Now, looking back at it, I think about how dumb it is, but in the heat of the moment you don’t think about it.

“There’s something called second impact syndrome. So if you get hit and you get a concussion— and this is very rare—but if you receive another blow and your head hasn’t fully healed, especially if you’re an adolescent, then you can die because there’s still so much swelling. That’s what happened in Ottawa. They’re saying she didn’t report any of her headaches or symptoms to her parents, but she had told some of her friends. There’s nothing they could really do in that case. It’s very sad.”

Now Miyazaki works to raise this awareness through working with the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA). She is part of Take Brain Injury out of Play, a campaign within the association that strives to educate young athletes about the dangers of head injuries.

“We emphasize that if you’re going to respect your own brain, you’ve got to respect the brain of your opponents, too. Part of that is playing by the rules,” said Miyazaki. “My job is to try and promote that program and go out and make people aware of concussions, because I think a lot of people don’t realize how big of an issue it is. They don’t take it as seriously as it needs to be taken because you can’t see it, right?

“You look at someone and they look fine to you. If someone had a broken arm, you would never tell them to get back in the game, but if you look at someone and they just have a headache, people pressure them to get back in the game. This is something we need to stop as peers, coaches and parents.”

Miyazaki knows her football days are likely over. It’s not a guarantee, but neither is life.

“I decided not to play this year because it wasn’t worth it. Some days I still occasionally feel dizzy, which could be the concussions or my neck injury. It’s a hard thing; I know my parents don’t want me to play, and the thing is, they say once you’ve had one you’re so much more susceptible. That’s not good news for me.

“There are so many other things that I want to do in my life that to risk that and have to sit out for months again, just for one sport, isn’t really worth it to me.”

June is National Brain Injury Awareness month and Miyazaki hopes that, with the added education and conversation about head injuries, athletes start to realize the importance of protecting their brains. To learn more about Miyazaki, the SBIA or Take Brain Injury out of Play campaign, email Miyazaki at k.miyazaki@usask.ca or go to the SBIA website at www.sbia.ca.


Story from The Saskatoon Express

 

 

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News

Ban Fighting in Hockey: Poll - Globe and Mail article

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   March 9, 2013 12:10

It appears the nation is keen to clean up the national game.

A new Exhibit No. 1 in the court of public opinion was on gut-wrenching display Wednesday night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, when Maple Leafs forward Frazer McLaren knocked out Ottawa Senators rookie Dave Dziurzynski with a single punch to the head.

Rarely has a player worn such an unfortunate nickname – “Call me Dizzy,” Dziurzynski recently told reporters who were tying their fingers in knots trying to type his name – as the 23-year-old forward suffered a concussion in the fight that took place barely 26 seconds into the game.

“It doesn’t appear to have been provoked at all,” says former Ontario attorney-general Roy McMurtry, who fought, and mostly lost, a high-profile legal battle against NHL violence in the 1970s.

“It’s just plain thuggery.”

It’s also a farce. The staged fight is the cartoon of professional hockey – “entertainment” apart from the main attraction – but it is increasingly seen as not funny at all. Particularly when players are injured.

This was the classic staged fight, all but guaranteed the moment the two coaches filled out their lineups and threw out players who should count themselves fortunate to see a few minutes of ice time on a fourth line.

There was a fight, but no punishment for stopping the game so abruptly and unnecessarily. Both players were given majors – let’s not call them penalties – and sent off (Dziurzynski was helped off once he regained consciousness). The teams then resumed play with five skaters a side.

McLaren, with his fifth fight of the shrunken season, will now be able to table his treasured major just as superior players will table their goals and assists come contract time. In the NHL, after all, you are rewarded, not penalized, for fighting.

It is perhaps the greatest absurdity in all of team sports. And, it appears, people are finally starting to see it as such.

“Staged fights, and indeed all fights in hockey should be banned, as they are in many great sports such as soccer,” says Dr. Charles Tator, founder of ThinkFirst Canada and project director of the Canadian Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.

“We would have a safer game if we banned fighting.”

Nearly 40 years after McMurtry and his brother Bill tried to get gratuitous and unnecessary violence out of the game, a new survey contends that Canadians are sick of such thuggery.

Angus Reid Public Opinion recently surveyed the population at large, as well as a specific sample of self-described hockey fans, on a number of issues from when to introduce bodychecking to what should be done about fisticuffs in the game.

This week, The Globe and Mail reported on the first part of the survey – a vast majority of Canadians want bodychecking out of peewee hockey – and today the results are in on the public attitude toward fighting:

Three-quarters of Canadians (78 per cent) – and an identical percentage of fans of the game – want to see fights banned in all junior hockey;

Two-thirds of Canadians – fans as well as the general public – believe fighting should also be banned at the professional level;

Only 16 per cent of the country favours allowing fights at the junior levels;

One-quarter of Canadians (27 per cent) oppose eliminating fights at the professional level, while 5 per cent aren’t sure what to do;

While 95 per cent of fans believe skating is an “essential component” of the game, and 93 per cent believe shooting is important, a minuscule 7 per cent say the ability to engage in on-ice fights is important.

In other words, hockey’s cartoon can go.

The online survey was conducted between Feb. 22 and 26. It involved 1,013 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists and an additional smaller sample of 502 self-described hockey fans. According to the pollster, the margin of error in such a survey would be plus or minus 3.1 per cent from the larger sample of Canadian adults, and plus or minus 4.5 per cent for the smaller sample.

Respondents were asked if they would support a system in place in college and university hockey, where rules call for automatic ejection and suspension for those players engaging in fisticuffs.

By large majorities, they agreed there should be rules to bring an end, as much as possible, to fighting in hockey.

The survey did not break down fights into those that occur in the heat of the moment and those that occur for no comprehensible reason, as was the case when Dziurzynski and McLaren decided to hammer each other before the game had taken a second breath.

So while McLaren has another “major” to take to the bargaining table, Dziurzynski carries with him a history of concussion as he tries to establish what has already been a most unlikely hockey career.

The 23-year-old rookie from Lloydminster, Alta., came to the NHL only because the Senators have been so gutted by injury the team has had to reach far down into its minor-league system.

Dziurzynski did not play major junior hockey and was never drafted. His size – 6 foot 3, 204 pounds – and willingness to do whatever it takes made him an attractive quantity. He at times has appeared to be a late bloomer as far as ability and skills are concerned, but his main qualities remain size and toughness.

When the taller and larger McLaren asked right off the opening faceoff if Dziurzynski wanted to fight – McLaren has admitted he was trying to “spark” his team to a strong early start – the Ottawa rookie initially said no, but then went ahead and fought anyway.

If he was going to stick, he would have to prove himself.

But what he also proved is that, when it comes to fighting in hockey, we are getting a bit dizzy and nauseous.

Article from the Globe and Mail.

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News

Study out of Boston University - Brain Damage and Contact Sports

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   December 5, 2012 00:08

 

The world’s largest study of the brains of dead professional athletes has found that the majority were suffering from a degenerative brain condition before they died, giving a sobering glimpse into the potential long-term impact of violent contact sport.

Of the 85 brains Boston University researchers studied, 68 were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease brought on by repetitive hits to the head and linked to depression, memory loss, aggression and dementia. Half of those 68 were former professional football players; 16 more played football as their primary sport.

The study is to be published on Monday in the scientific journal Brain. A copy was obtained by The Globe and Mail.

While the prevalence of CTE is unknown, the Boston researchers say their work shows a clear link between the disease and football – and potentially other sports played by donors in the study, including rugby, wrestling and hockey. The brains of five former hockey players were analyzed. Four were found to have CTE. Most played the role of enforcer. They were NHL stars Reggie Fleming, Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert and Rick Martin.

Donors in the study also included two NFL Hall of Famers, tight end John Mackey and running back Ollie Matson, and former NFL and CFL running back Cookie Gilchrist. All were found to have advanced CTE.

“I don’t think we can ignore it any longer. It’s not going to go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist. It does exist,” said Anne McKee, a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University and the study’s lead author. “And if you talk to any of [their] family members, they will tell you it’s devastating. Truthfully, working on this disease is really heartbreaking.”

The study is the first to classify the disease into degrees of severity, highlighting four stages as it slowly marches through the neurological system over decades.

Initially, CTE begins with damaged neurons in one area of the brain, and symptoms might include headaches or problems concentrating. In Stage 2, subjects may grapple with depression and impairment of their short-term memory, and then eventually progress to Stage 3, which includes difficulty with multi-tasking, planning and judgment. Stage 4 includes full-blown dementia.

Within the sample, which also included the brains of former soldiers, the authors also found that one-third of the CTE cases were diagnosed with additional degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Lewy body disease. Of the donors, seven died from suicide.

In most cases, the disease was the most severe in the athletes who died in their 60s, 70s and 80s, confirming what researchers already suspected: it is degenerative.

However, the researchers were perplexed to discover that a small number of the older donors had low-level CTE despite being exposed to brain trauma as young athletes. This suggests that a mystery factor – possibly genetic or environmental – may stop the disease from advancing in some people.

“It definitely opens up the question of why do the majority of people relentlessly progress with this disease, but not everybody. What is it unique about those people that don’t relentlessly progress? And that holds great hope, if we can figure it out, for treatment and prevention,” said Robert Cantu, co-author of the paper and co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute in Boston.

CTE results from what Dr. Cantu called “total brain trauma” – which includes multiple hits to the head that cause the brain to rattle off the skull, something that doesn’t always result in a concussion. Generally, athletes suffered the repetitive brain trauma over many years. Certain sports (such as boxing and football), and certain positions played (linebackers in football and enforcers in hockey), appear more prone to these sorts of repetitive brain traumas, Dr. Cantu said.

While scientists say it is likely that CTE is rare, they still don’t know many things, such as who is most susceptible, how it can be diagnosed while players are still living, and what can be done to prevent or treat it.

Dr. Cantu emphasized that people should not assume there is a direct link between CTE and concussions, especially if the concussions are diagnosed and treated properly. In fact, he said, some of the brains found to have CTE came from people who had never been diagnosed with a concussion.

“Just because somebody’s had three, four, five concussions, don’t suddenly think you’re going to wind up with CTE – that’s not the way it works,” Dr. Cantu said.

He added that concussions should be taken seriously and treated properly to prevent other serious medical conditions, including post-concussion syndrome and second-impact syndrome.

Article from the Globe and Mail

 

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News

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