OK, that title may be hyperbole, but the new research out of Canada should make you take a step back and realize what our fine researchers are now able to discover. Considering the context of hockey it shouldn’t be shocking that this was found in Canada (since posting we have been informed that work was done on both sides of the border), but really for a long while now some of the best work on concussions is coming from the North, for whatever reason (no disrespect to the US scientists).
Now that I effectively pissed off a few readers with the last comment, here is what was found by Dr. Paul Echlin and team:
- concussions alter the white matter of the brain
- structural damage can now be seen
- MRI was used
- this is both males and females
- brain vascular changes were noted in males only, but resolved at two months
- comparison with control counterparts showed that concussed individuals had white mater changes at end of season (upon being fully resolved from injury)
From the CTV News article (video at jump);
“It means we’re finding organic, objective evidence of this trauma,” said Dr. Paul Echlin, a sports medicine physician in Burlington, Ont., who led the studies.
“We know that trauma occurs. We know that in soft tissue you’re going to have these findings of inflammation and neuroplasticity, which means changes in the structure, but we’d never seen it before.”
Now would be a great time to stress there should be NO LEAP to long-term damage being present… At this time…
“We don’t know what the long-term effects are. I think we’re still at a stage where it’s too early to tell,” said Martha Shenton, director of the psychiatry neuroimaging laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and co-principal author with Echlin on the studies.
“I think one has to be careful here and not say, ‘Hey, we’re showing permanent damage,”‘ Shenton said from Boston. “We aren’t saying that. We’re saying there’s evidence of changes here and we don’t know whether they’re going to be long term or whether they’re going to resolve and what they’re associated with.
“But it’s at least a little kind of warning … that if someone has a concussion, don’t send them back (to play) right away, give them the proper rest period they need before they get a secondary impact, which can actually be fatal.”
Note that this is in hockey players, a collision sport, that in most cases under 14 it is non-checking. In girls/women’s hockey checking has not been allowed in most leagues, ever. Concussions happen in any sport and in life in general, we should take stock in the fact that we are now seeing structural changes; long been theorized but never realized, until now.
It is not the actual injury of concussion that is the problem, it is the mismanagement of the injury that is the true problem in this issue. (trademarked/registered). This goes to show the importance of my mantra.