Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Concussions must be taken seriously: neurosurgeon

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IT has become a hot-button topic in both professional and amateur sports.

And a local expert on concussions says every brain injury suffered by an athlete needs to be taken seriously for fear of long-term effects, including mood-related issues such as depression and anxiety.

Studies at the Pan Am Clinic have shown between 30 and 50 per cent of all Winnipeg hockey players at either the midget or bantam AAA level have sustained at least one concussion.

"At present we believe the effects of concussion are cumulative, in that a patient who suffers one concussion is at an elevated risk of future concussions," Dr. Michael Ellis said Tuesday. He is a neurosurgeon who is heading up a new facility opening this fall that will be dedicated to treating and researching children and adolescents who suffer this type of injury.

The family of 16-year-old Ethan Williams, who took his own life last month, told the Free Press he had been diagnosed with eight concussions since age 11. Ellis said those who suffer repeated brain trauma are "at risk of taking longer to recover and are also at risk of a rare, but catastrophic condition called second impact syndrome."

Ellis said the "vast majority" of people who develop depression or anxiety find those symptoms go away along with other concussion symptoms, usually within one to four weeks. But every patient is unique.

"In those patients who exhibit persistent or worrisome mood-related symptoms, it is very important that we facilitate urgent referral to the appropriate child and adolescent mental health services so these patients can receive the prompt support and expertise that they need," said Ellis.

The new concussion treatment project will be run by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and operate on the second floor of the MTS Iceplex in conjunction with True North Sports & Entertainment and the Pan Am Clinic Foundation. They are expecting to treat 50 new patients a week, with the potential to influence how concussions are handled globally.

 

-- McIntyre

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 13, 2014 A3

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Updated on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 6:29 AM CDT: Adds photo

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