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Making concussion connections

Concussion conference photo

UCC nurse Cindy Lima Rivera, CFL executive director Mary Gauthier, CFL Middle Division coordinator Kathryn Reid, UCC athletic therapist Sonya Pridmore and Dr. Michael Cusimano at a concussion conference at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Concussions have become top news stories for a good reason. They happen to a wide range of people in a large variety of ways, and research suggests we need to pay attention to prevention and care during the concussed period described as “return to play” and “return to learn.”

Upper Canada College Grade 12 student Keean Nanji wrote his extended essay on concussions last spring when the school’s Health Centre and Wernham West Centre for Learning (CFL) were learning about and developing policies and procedures around “return to play” and “return to learn.” Prep and Upper School head Don Kawasoe was also contacted last spring by Dr. Michael Cusimano to inquire about a possible research partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH) in the area of concussion prevention and recovery.

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All of these things are now converging and much is happening.

SMH announced a research partnership with UCC and other schools for its “Sport Concussion in Adolescents” study, and all parents of boys playing a contact sport from Grades 8 to 12 have been notified of it.

“We encourage parents to check Heads Up to read about this research, and we encourage their sons to participate,” says CFL executive director Mary Gauthier.

The three goals of the study are: to explore the risk factors that may make adolescents more vulnerable to sustaining a concussion; to look at the long-term effects that concussions may have on adolescents during their developing years; and to improve best practice standards of managing sports-related concussions in adolescents. The study involves a baseline session and three voluntary follow-up sessions.

SMH actively supports UCC’s research efforts and has sent a team member to attend every parent evening. Nanji works with the research team and helps the CFL encourage boys to participate. There are also plans to create an educational piece for younger boys on when and how to wear a helmet.

Gauthier and CFL Senior Division coordinator Jody McLean will make presentations on the “return to learn” process at UCC on Friday, Nov. 1 and at The Association of Boarding Schools’ annual conference in Boston on Saturday, Dec. 7.

“This research opportunity with SMH is helping UCC improve the support it offers and also on a community and global outreach level,” says Gauthier.