Seminar tackles concussion awareness

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Just because you can’t see an injury doesn’t mean it’s not serious. The organizer of a concussion seminar is hoping to increase awareness around the head injuries and teach tools on how to manage them.

“There’s a lot more awareness nowadays. Sports organizations are starting to take a closer look at it,” said Duncan Maguire, men’s club captain of the St. Albert Rugby Football Club and organizer of the event.

The seminar is hosted by the St. Albert Rugby Football Club on April 26. While the sport is known for being rough, concussions occur with any contact sport. For that reason, anyone from any sport is encouraged to attend the event.

Maguire, who has had a few concussions himself, said he wanted to increase awareness around the head injury. He said because it’s a condition not seen outside the body, it can be easy for athletes and coaches to shrug it off.

“My most recent one was a bad one,” he said. “I put my head on the wrong side of a tackle and I got a knee to the head. Me being stubborn and not being fully aware, I didn’t manage it properly after,” Maguire said.

Physiotherapists Matt Goertzen and Thomas Hughes will discuss how to recognize a concussion, how to manage one and how to work towards getting back into the sport. It will end with a question and answer period.

If concussions aren’t managed properly it can have lasting effects. After his head hit Maguire went out with friends instead of going home and taking care of himself.

Luckily he didn’t have any long-term repercussions, but if he could do it again he said he would’ve managed it better. He said some people who don’t take the right steps can have lasting effects like chronic splitting headaches.

Goertzen said concussions can happen in any contact sport. While not much is known about how the injury impacts the brain, he said taking care of the body is the best way to get back into the sport.

“A concussion can be caused by a direct or an indirect blow to the head,” he said. “There’s no true damage to the structure of the brain … but we know clinically that something is not working properly.”

Techniques change yearly, with the latest way to manage the injury including relative rest.

“We actually need a period of relative rest, where people are working and doing cardio within their symptoms to help them improve,” he said. “Certainly the worst way to deal with a concussion would be to ignore it.”

Through the seminar Goertzen said he hopes people will take the injury more seriously. Many times players and coaches dismiss a concussion, which could lead to further preventable damage.

The Government of Canada website reports that 64 per cent of emergency department visits from 10- to 18-year-olds are related to playing sports, physical activity and recreation.

Of that group, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions and 24 per cent were diagnosed with possible concussions.

In 2016 the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) reported that from 2011 to 2016 emergency department visits for sports-related brain injuries had increased significantly in Alberta.

Around 94 per cent of emergency visits for sports-related brain injuries were concussion related.

In that time period the CIHR reports that there was a 78 per cent increase in emergency department visits for sports-related brain injuries among those nine years old and younger. There was also an increase of 45 per cent in emergency department visits among those from 10 to 17 years old.

The seminar is April 26 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the St. Albert Rugby Football Club. There is no cost to attend, but people can register by contacting Duncan Maguire at 780-243-6985.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.