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Youth and concussion – examining the latest recommendations

Friday, Apr. 30, 2021
young girl in a hockey rink

On Feb 9th 2021, the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) held the 2021 Canadian Concussion in Sport Virtual Symposium, where recent research into Concussion assessment, management, prevention and treatment is presented from clinicians and researchers across Canada.

During this year’s symposium, Dr Nick Reed (PhD, MScOT, OT Reg, Ont) presented on the lack of proper concussion education and prevention/management programs available for youth in sport. Currently, he is involved in a study to develop a peer-led concussion education program for Canadian high schools called the Youth Concussion Awareness Network (You-CAN).

In the study presented, youth were asked to identify the barriers that made them reluctant to report concussions and a number of themes emerged. Researchers identified relationship types and challenges that could occur with each group.

The chart below shows the relationship groupings, the challenges that were identified, and how each of these groups can help mitigate these challenges.

table showing concussion challenges among youth

Concussion care is a multi-faceted field and treatment needs to be individualized for the person so it is not a one-size-fits-all program.

The SIRC symposium aims to bridge the gaps in our knowledge of concussions to make sure we meet the ultimate goal of providing the best possible care to everyone.

As a result of the above research findings, the researchers are now working on a study to develop a peer-led concussion education program for Canadian high schools called the Youth Concussion Awareness Network (You-CAN).

The development of this program is in conjunction with multiple Canadian Universities, rehab hospitals and high schools across Canada.

Why the need for You-CAN?

  • Concussions in youth have increased annually by 10.3% from 2005-2014 in Canada
  • Concussions are underreported in youth due to lack of knowledge, social environment, perceived outcomes of reporting, perceived norms, and self-efficacy.
  • Social participation after a concussion was impacted by a lack of understanding about concussions from their peers.

You-CAN Intervention

  • I – Investigate need for concussion awareness and create councils to address change
  • P – Plan & Prepare for the Concussion Awareness Campaign during regular council meetings
  • A – Act by leading a week-long Concussion Awareness Campaign
  • R – Reflect on experiences as a council member with the Research Team
  • D – Demonstrate and celebrate impact at the Rowan Stringer Concussion Awareness Showcase

Information and education is key to providing social support for youth during concussion recovery. Concussion education should:

  • Be targeted at increasing concussion knowledge and promoting positive behavioural change, especially among athletes that play high-risk and team sports
  • Contain initiatives that enhance concussion knowledge and create more supportive environments

Historically, there has been a lack of appropriate information about concussions for our youth population in Canada.

Combined with concussion associated stigmas, this has led to under-reporting of concussion in youth, which in turn has lead to inappropriate concussion management and treatment.

Developing an effective education program that can be implemented at a young age, and can go a long way towards eliminating the stigma associated with concussions .

Visit the Concussion Lab website for more information.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with concussion recovery post diagnosis, many Lifemark clinics offer concussion care as a service.

We can help you move and feel better.
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