The Sport Information Resource Centre
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The Sport Information Resource Centre

The Youth Concussion Awareness Network (You-CAN) is a novel, peer-led program focused on concussion education and awareness for high-school students across Canada. Findings from the use of You-CAN program in school settings show that youth with higher concussion knowledge are more likely to report a concussion to an adult and to provide social support to a peer.

With limited resources for research initiatives, partnering with external research or community groups can increase a sport organization’s capacity to conduct concussion injury prevention work. Developing initiatives with these partners, such as universities and hospitals, can help sport organizations gain access to trained staff capable of taking on some of the research burden.

To be effective, strategies to reduce the risk of concussion should be both targeted and sport-specific. Sport-specific knowledge about how concussions occur and where the highest risks exist will help sport organizations develop effective strategies. After a new strategy is introduced, ongoing re-evaluation and data collection is vital for assessing its success and impact.

Did you know that an athlete’s decision to report a concussion is influenced by their age and gender? While girls and women aged 13 and older are more likely to report concussion symptoms than boys and men in the same age group, research shows that girls under the age of 13 are less likely to report symptoms of a concussion than similar-aged boys.

Female athletes may be at a higher risk of sustaining a concussion than male athletes. Evidence-informed strategies to help reduce concussion risk among women, girls and female athletes include encouraging them to check their helmet’s fit regularly and incorporating neck strengthening exercises into their training programs. 

Attitudes and social norms that prioritize athlete performance can prevent parents and guardians from discussing concussion reporting with their kids. Educational initiatives targeting parents and guardians are needed to address these attitudes and norms, while emphasizing the benefits of parent/guardian-athlete communication, such as developing closer bonds.

Tell, teach, and track. Those are the 3 Ts of concussion awareness and education, according to David Hill, a program coordinator at the Castaway Wanderers Rugby Football Club. For more great tips on how to get your organization’s concussion initiatives off ground, check out the stories and ideas of community sport organizations from across Canada in the SIRCuit.

Para athletes are frequently exposed to concussion risk, particularly in high-speed and impact type sports such as Para alpine skiing, Para ice hockey and wheelchair basketball. They’re also exposed to concussion risk in sports where the risk to the non-Para athlete would be considered low, for example, in track-wheelchair racing, where crashes happen often.

The number of concussions reported among Canadian youth has increased annually by 10.3% between 2004 and 2015. Even so, many concussions go unreported. To improve concussion reporting and health outcomes for youth, consider how youths’ social networks influence their behaviour, and explore new ways of enabling youth to help each other learn about concussion.

Did you know that women often experience concussions differently than men, including worse symptoms and longer recovery time? Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), researchers from RENITA Medical and the Hospital for Sick Children are scanning the brains of women to learn more about the effects of concussion on women. MEG offers an objective way to diagnose concussions compared to common self-reporting methods.