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Growing concern over child concussions sparks public forum in Caledonia Aug. 24

SIMCOE, AUGUST 12, 2011 – Parents, teachers, coaches and youth workers are all being urged to attend a free public forum at the Haldimand County Caledonia Centre on Wednesday, Aug. 24, to tackle growing concern over concussion injuries in young people.

The forum will help parents and others responsible for child welfare recognize a concussion, and understand what to do if you suspect your child has suffered from one.

Two featured speakers will be sharing their expertise with those in attendance at the forum. Kristine Hooghiem, a case manager in the Brain Injury Program at London Health Sciences, will be first to speak, followed by Gary Fisch, a course conductor for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association and Hockey Canada’s trainer’s program and Speak Out program. Doors to the arena’s Remax room will open at 6:30 p.m. with talks getting underway at 7 p.m. A question and answer period will follow.

“High-profile cases of concussions in sports figures have finally alerted all of us to the dangers of these head injuries,” said Joanne Alessi, Injury Prevention Coordinator for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. Alessi also pointed out that young children have the highest concussion rate among all age groups.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is coordinating the forum, with backing and support from a number of health and sports organizations including London Health Sciences, Norfolk General Hospital, Ontario Minor Hockey, and the Haldimand-Norfolk offices of Brain Injury Services.

Karin Marks, a Health Promoter with the Health Unit, noted that, “the most important thing a parent can do is ensure that their children report any symptoms immediately. Parents should then remove the child from any activities that could cause further damage while symptoms are present.”

Rose Gass, an emergency room manager at Norfolk General Hospital, says most concussion cases seen in the ER are due to falls, sports injuries or motor vehicle crashes. She advises parents to recognize that any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes a sudden jarring of the head, may cause a concussion.

“A person does not need to be knocked out to have had a concussion,” Gass said. “It is important to seek medical treatment for children who may have had a head injury, and have developed symptoms such as sensitivity to lights, irritability, change in behaviour, headache and vision problems.”

Concussions among youth are substantial enough that Brain Injury Services, a not-for-profit brain injury rehabilitation agency with offices in Simcoe and Hagersville, has developed a special adolescent rehabilitation program.

“In addition to our regular adult programming, we now have rehabilitation programs specifically geared to those between the ages of 13 and 16 who are living with the effects of a brain injury,” said Robert Roth, the agency’s Communications Manager.

According to research, 10% to 15% of individuals who sustain a concussion will continue to experience significant symptoms beyond the normal recovery period of three months. New research has demonstrated that some symptoms do not show up immediately and part of the injured brain continues to worsen during a “vulnerability phase.”

Although most effects of concussions are temporary, repeated concussions during the vulnerability phase can have serious health consequences many years later.

For more information about the public forum, contact Joanne Alessi at 905-318-5367 ext. 322.

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Media contact:
Joanne Alessi, RN
Injury Prevention Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
905-318-5367 Ext. 322
[email protected]