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Concussions in sports: Knowledge is as essential as equipment

HRM Leaders Share Experience and Perspective

It is vital for sports to be stabilized by safety and at the foundation of that safety is knowledge. Of all sports injuries, it is important for athletes and their families to be thoroughly educated in brain injury prevention, symptoms, treatment and recovery.

Local leaders in sports offer their perspective from both education and experience.

“Looking back, it's scary, but that's how I grew up in hockey.”
Jon Greenwood, Head Coach - SMU Mens Hockey Team

“It certainly wasn't something we were educated and aware of [growing up], that's the way it was, unfortunately, looking back it's scary, but that's how I grew up in hockey. We now know as coaches we're directed, and we're aware that somebody comes off and says their head hurts or they have a headache, and they took a direct blow to the head, to sit down let somebody on the medical side see you and assess you before you go back on the ice. My son is seven years old and plays hockey, and he's more aware of what a concussion is than I was when I was 19. I mean, that sounds foolish to say, but he looks at things in a completely different way than I did when I was his age, and that's a good thing. It's a fine line, you don't want to put fear into the children, but I think we certainly have to let them know that when you bump your head, it's different than bumping the rest of your body."

“Your brain needs to recover just like any other part of your body.”
Dr. Mark MacLean, Neurosurgery Resident Physician, Dalhousie University

"…you injure your knee. You can look down at it, you can see the bruise or the injury, and it's obvious to you.” Dr.MacLean explains, “… the brain is no exception. The big difference is that you can't see your brain. Just because the injury isn't visible to your eye doesn't mean that it's not there. So, your brain needs to recover just like any other part of your body."

“…recognize signs and symptoms…”
Natalie Thornley, Occupational Therapist, Nova Scotia Health:

"My best advice, is to get informed on what's going on in concussion, know what's going on in the sport and what to expect…” “be better equipped to know about concussion to recognize signs and symptoms early…” “I would say check the tools provided by the sports organization as well as from Brain Injury NS"

“We've seen lives lost in this game…”
Tim Hart, Coach - Rugby Nova Scotia

"More education and more awareness of athletes… to put that responsibility on them to know what that responsibility is. And the weight of that responsibility is very important. I make sure all my athletes know where I come from as a coach going into every game, and they understand that. I expect them to be very honest and forthcoming when they have a knock to the head. We've seen lives lost in this game from people going back either in the same game or going back to the game too early; that's a risk, and what's known now, is that you know you could die if not taken seriously."

“Yes, you can get hurt doing this, but that's why we are safe…”
Jessica Swinkles, Equestrian

"Someone who's just starting riding, (a child) they'll ask me, ‘Can I get hurt doing this?’ …And the answer is yes. ‘Yes, you can get hurt doing this, but that's why we are safe about things, and we wear a helmet’...I was wearing a helmet thankfully, which is good because I think that I'd be dead if I weren't"

As the science of sports advances, so does the understanding sports injuries. Fortunately, education and resources are offered through the partnership between the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia and Sport Nova Scotia.

To source the very latest information on sport concussion visit

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