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Turning the page on brain injuries

Book discusses treatment, prevention of concussions

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Another resource for concussion information is in play, this time from two hockey players who have lived through the dark side of their brain trauma.

Concussed! Sports-related Head Injuries; Prevention, Coping and Real Stories, ($19.95, Over Time Books) is now on bookshelves in Canada, authored by 54-year-old Winnipeg native Kerry Goulet and former Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau, now 40.

It's the product of the duo that began and the local launch Thursday at the University of Winnipeg was supported by the likes of Dr. Glen Bergeron, associate dean of U of W's faculty of kinesiology and founder of the school's Heads Up concussion institute, Dr. Anthony Kaufmann, neurosurgeon and director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Cranial Nerve Disorders.

"There aren't a lot of books, Canadian-written books, on concussions on the shelves and we realized that not everybody's savvy with the Internet," said Goulet, the former MJHL player who spent 16 years starring as a player, coach and manager in German professional leagues.

"A story that hits home, part of why we did this book, is about Vic Hadfield. His grandson was injured with a concussion. The boy wasn't getting better. (He was) allowed to go back a bit early and got concussed again. They weren't that savvy with the Internet so they reached out to Ron Ellis, who's on the board with us for the Stopconcussion Foundation, and asked if he could get Keith or Kerry to talk to him.

"Vic called and we explained to him what his grandson Victor was going through and it really helped him understand that we had information he couldn't collect on the Internet."

Primeau, who retired after 909 NHL games and a fourth serious concussion episode in 2006, said it's a continued labour of love for him.

"It's a continuation of the work we've done with and we just felt what we're about is getting as much information to people as possible.

"On top of it, there are some really touching stories, most with positive outcomes but at the same time, there's one particular story where a young man (Eric Pelly) loses his life. It gives it a more personal touch."

The co-authors were aware of that concussions are a hot topic in Winnipeg this week, with the plight of Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce and his burning desire to overcome any and all injuries.

"It's certainly not an unfamiliar scenario," Primeau said. "It's an ever-prevalent storyline. It's part of the makeup of a competitor so it's difficult to change that mentality.

"Part of our mission at stopconcussions is to try to change, push that cultural shift so that people understand. I would suggest that's partly (working) in this particular instance although it hasn't been absorbed entirely, but I'm reading the stories on this situation and I'm hearing that he's suggesting it's very dangerous and there could be long-term ramifications and that I need to consult a physician.

"Those are all questions that even six months, two years ago, players weren't asking. So there is a change for the better, but we still haven't fully swing the pendulum to the side of complete understanding."

One matter that is considerably better just in recent weeks is how Primeau's feeling. He has been through some dark days since retiring.

"Literally in the last few weeks... this is the best I've felt, the closest I've felt to my normal state since between concussions three and four," Primeau said.

"It's very nice, enjoyable, but I don't know how long it's going to last. But I also know there are a lot of stories where athletes into their forties don't progress, they regress. So I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2012 C6

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