Concussion program begins work

Clinic will treat kids' head injuries, conduct research

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A unique city clinic for treating concussions in children and youth expects to receive at least 25 new patients a week.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2014 (2910 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A unique city clinic for treating concussions in children and youth expects to receive at least 25 new patients a week.

The Pan Am Clinic program, located in the MTS Iceplex, began taking patients earlier this month. There’s not another facility like it in Canada, if not North America.

“I think what sets us apart is the magnitude of our team and the cumulative experience that we have in traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. Michael Ellis, a neurosurgeon and the program’s leader.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES The Pan Am Concussion Program, led by Dr. Michael Ellis, has opened a clinic that solely focuses on treating and researching youth head injuries.

He said the program will meet an “urgent and unmet” need in the community.

Ellis, who was lured to Winnipeg from Toronto, where he treated and researched pediatric sport-related head injuries, said there is still much to learn about the long-term effects of concussions in children.

His team will treat kids who suffer persistent concussion symptoms upon referral from Children’s Hospital, a family physician or pediatrician. The 15-person team also includes a neurologist, psychiatrist, physiotherapists and other professionals.

It will also conduct research that will likely lead to new protocols for treating children and adolescents with concussions.

The True North Foundation supplied space for the clinic at the Iceplex, while the province kicked in $700,000 for renovations and $300,000 a year in operating funds.

“The kids will not only get a good recovery plan, they’ll get one tailored to their needs,” said Health Minister Erin Selby, who admitted to suffering a concussion as a 12-year-old figure skater.

“I remember when I was a kid and had a concussion; the treatment was stay awake for 12 hours and if you’re still OK after that, you’re right back at it. Well, we know now that it’s a more serious thing.”

‘I think what sets us apart is the magnitude of our team and the cumulative experience that we have in traumatic brain injury’

— Dr. Michael Ellis

Winnipeg Blue Bombers lineman Ryan Lucas, who attended the clinic’s official opening on Tuesday, has had two serious concussions and has suffered from post-concussion syndrome.

“I’ve had friends and colleagues who have had to retire from the sport because of their concussions,” said Lucas, who turns 30 later this month.

He’s also watched teammates keep silent about concussions. He advises kids not to follow suit, but to speak up about these traumatic injuries.

Lucas said young athletes should be aware of what their body is telling them. They may not recall the hit or the play that led to a concussion, but “if something does feel wrong… get it checked out and (do) not suffer in silence,” he cautioned.

Ellis, who has encountered sports-related concussions in children as young as four, said the obvious symptoms include headaches and sensitivity to light and sound. But there are more subtle clues, including irritability, sadness and mild cognitive issues.

The new clinic will develop standardized protocols for treating children and teens for concussions and partner with Manitoba schools to develop a “return to learn program” for kids who have suffered brain injuries.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Dr. Michael Ellis a neurosurgeon and head of the concussion program at the Pan Am Concussion Program clinic at the MTS IcePlex.

Dr. Wayne Hildahl, CEO of Pan Am Clinic, said parents whose children have had a concussion always worry about whether or when it’s safe for them to return to playing a sport. The new program will help answer that question, he said.

More information on the concussion program is available on the Pan Am Clinic website.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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