Until recently, concussions were dismissed as a minor 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 disease or Parkinson’s disease.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by swirling movement (rotational acceleration) of the brain within the skull, either by a direct blow to the head or body, 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 brain injuries" and a single concussion usually resolves completely 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.
Based at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, Toronto Western Hospital, the Canadian Concussion Centre is a Canadian study focused on examining the possible correlation between repeated concussions, neurological symptoms, neuropsychological performance and imaging of the brain.
Brain degeneration is suspected to be especially frequent after repeated concussions in sports, but may also occur in other activities including motor vehicle crashes, industrial injuries or falls. The Canadian Concussion Centre aims to improve diagnosis and treatment of the concussion spectrum of disorders which includes acute concussion, second impact syndrome, post-concussion syndrome, post-concussion emotional disorders, and brain degeneration such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Led by neurosurgeon and concussion expert, Dr. Charles Tator, the centre is comprised of some of Canada's leading clinicians and scientists in the area of brain injury and concussion focused on learning more about concussions and their long-lasting effects.
For more detailed information on the Canadian Concussion Centre's research, news, and how you can donate your brain and support its research, please visit: solveconcussions.ca.