Concussions: Happen to big leaguers, youngsters, bunny hill skiers

*Waterloo's Aiden Fife, who twice was felled by  aconcussion, and his mother Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, were both part of the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences forum on concussions at the Hockey Hall of Fame./Photos: Alexis Brudnicki ....  2012 Canadians in the Minors  2012 Canadians in College 2012 Canadians draft list Letters of Intent


Concussions: lie down, take Tylenol, don't fall asleep ... nope 

Concussions: Keith Primeau discusses the dark days

By Bob Elliott

Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger.

Justin Morneau and Jason Bay.

And Aidan Fife of Waterloo.

Concussions aren’t restricted to one sport, one level of stardom or one age group.

While Crosby and Pronger are NHLers, Morneau and Bay earn their living as major league hitters, Fife, now 13, was skating on left wing for the Waterloo Wolves in the final of a minor peewee full-body contact tournament in Hamilton in 2010.

“I was hit from behind and another player jumped into me with both gloves in my face,” Fife said, who didn’t remember falling on his way to the bench.

No penalty was called.

“I was tipsy and taken to the dressing room.”

Fife had suffered a concussion ... an injury each and everyone of us is learning more and more about.

Fife was at the Hockey Hall of Fame along with the big boys, former National Hockey Leaguers Wayne and Keith Primeau, Keith Acton and Ron Ellis on Thursday morn as two concussion guides were released ... one for parents, one for children.

Dr. Stan Kutcher of Dalhousie University wrote the guidelines to fight/educate/combat concussions on a multi-pronged platform and kicked things off via the magic of skype.

The passionate Kerry Goulet and the Primeau brothers of were on hand, along with Aidan’s mother Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and Dr. Ian Dawe, of the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby which put the group together through its ‘You’re Not Alone’ program.

Concussions are projected to reach 240,000 in Canada by the year 2036, with the greatest increases predicted to be in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

Goulet explained concussions are not strictly an NHL, NFL, major-league baseball or boxing problem but one of society ... from the skier on the bunny hill at Mont Tremblant to the youth soccer player in Germany ... to Aidan.

As the saying goes we don’t know, what we don’t know.

And few parents, coaches, educators know all the facts about concussions.

“We woke Aidan up every two hours, asked if he was OK and he went to school the next day,” said the mother of her brave son. “We should have erred on the side of caution. We didn’t have testing done.”

Aidan, was still groggy and tired. He couldn’t keep his balance standing on one foot, couldn’t do his ABCs backward.

Someone came to Fife and said ‘so, your son got his bell rung?’ The mother answered ‘no, he injured his brain.’

After taking six weeks off Aidan returned to the lineup.

Once you have a concussion you are more susceptible to another. So there was Aidan running up the hill at MacGregor School and when he hit the wet pavement ... he slipped and down he went. A cut over his right eye. Concussion No. 2. This time his parents were better prepared. This time he “rested” his brain, before heading back to school needing a doctor's certificate to get back on the ice .

Now he plays for a select travel team. Said Aidan's mom: "As a parent, I like it, there's no hitting."

Aidan was there to tell his story to the TV cameras ... to help, to educate others.


Understanding Brain Injury in Adolescence designed for a parents, coaches and educators 


What would Aidan tell someone his age who thinks they may have suffered a concussion.

“If you have a head ache or think you had one, feel dizzy or confused, tell someone, let them decide if you can play again,” Aidan said.

And players should think of their own health -- not the scoreboard -- when they are knocked down and reach the bench to be asked "what day is it?" Or "what is your full name?"

That’s not always the case in the bullet-proof mind set of sports, especially in a one-goal, one-run, or one-point game. The natural instinct is to get back in there. Take a deep breath and suck it up ... WE NEED YOU!

Well, your long-term health is more important.

The guides should be helpful as far as educating on both levels.


The Brain Injury Guide for Youth


Goulet and Fife explained the four-part process:

1) Prevention. “No matter how much money you spend on a helmet it will not prevent a brain from hitting the skull,” said Fife. Her son said mouth guards, even fitted mouth guards don’t prevent concussions.

2) Assessment. Get medical attention either an MRI or a CAT scan. Concussion-like symptoms range from headaches, to vertigo, to loss of balance, memory loss, a change in personality or nausea.

3) Manage. Rest the brain. Cut down on screen media (TV, lap tops, Blackberries or anything else.) Ease back into the school day. First two hours, then three, etc.

4) Research.

Fife said in addition to schools being responsible for a student's achievements, schools are responsible for a student's well being under a recent bill.

Goulet has been working with the Greater Toronto Hockey League. One youngster suffered a severe head injury who is having to re-learn his ABCs. The guides say 15% of head injuries are serious, the rest can be managed with proper care.

“Recently a boy suffered a concussion, went to hospital and his parents were told by an intern their son had a Grade 3 concussion and two wake him every two hours,” Goulet said. “Waking someone every two hours is an old wives’ tale. Doctors have not graded concussions for eight years.

“Like Crosby says ‘I don’t want to be 90%, there is no such thing as 90% returning from a concussion,’” Goulet said. “He wants to be 100%. There are too many young Canadians walking around in the dark.”