Our Concussion Project is a Canadian study based out of the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital that is focused on examining the possible correlation between repeated concussions and late deterioration of brain function. This problem is suspected to be especially frequent after repeated concussion in sports, but may also occur after concussions in other activities including motor vehicle crashes, industrial injuries or falls.
Until recently, concussions were dismissed as a minor medical event. However, today we know that a concussion is a brain injury and that multiple concussions can result in long term consequences, which may range in severity. In the most severe cases, some professional athletes have acquired degenerative brain diseases that resemble Alzheimer’s or Parkinson ’s disease.
The Concussion Project has 2 separate components:
- A clinical research study, which involves former football players undergoing a neurological, neuropsychiatric, and neuropsychological assessment, the results of which will be discussed with players. Participants will also undergo a brain scan (MRI) to help us better understand any changes in the brain that may occur due to multiple concussions.
- Brain donation for a post-mortem examination of the brain, from professional athletes and members of the public who have suffered multiple concussions, who choose to donate their brain to the research team upon death.
The project has received endorsement from the Canadian Football League Alumni Association (CFL AA), which has played an active role in support of the project. We are also working the Professional Hockey Players’ Association to help connect interested participants with the concussion project.
Get a complete description of the project.
Definition of a concussion
A concussion is a brain injury caused by movement of the brain within the skull, either by a direct blow or by a whiplash effect. The movement of the brain causes damage that changes how brain cells function, leading to symptoms that can be physical (headaches, dizziness), cognitive (problems remembering or concentrating), or emotional (feeling depressed). A concussion can result from a blow to the head or body in any number of activities including receiving a check in hockey, falling from a jungle gym, being in a motor vehicle collision, or slipping on an icy sidewalk.
Although concussions are often referred to as "mild traumatic head injuries" and a single concussion usually resolves itself with no further issues, concussions have the potential for serious and long-lasting symptoms and so must be treated carefully and in consultation with a doctor.