Surrey-based clinics changing how to care for concussions

SURREY — Concussions have been the hot-button issue of contact sports and it is believed that medical professionals weren’t handling them correctly in the past.

Now, Complete Concussion Management (CCM) is attempting to bring concussion assessment and treatment to the forefront by creating a national network of clinics to address the head injuries.

Dr. Cameron Marshall, president of CCM, said he started the network out of the demand for it.

"People with concussion injuries generally have no place to go in terms of somewhere that can offer them rehab from practitioners that are well educated on concussions," said Marshall.

"It’s extremely hard for people to find. Most the time, they are left to do nothing at all."

Sidney Crosby has become the poster boy for concussion management after the Pittsburgh Penguins star was sidelined for more than a year after suffering two serious blows to the head over four days.

"He’s the one who kind of opened everyone’s eyes in Canada and realized that even a superstar can be afflicted by this injury and lose a significant amount of playing time. Not only that, but there is potential for career-ending injuries," Marshall said.

CCM is trying to attract community sports associations to be involved with one of their clinics to assess and treat concussion-like injuries.

One of the clinics, Back in Motion, has two locations in Surrey and is looking to change how to care for patients as they nurse themselves back to normal.

Matt Peters, a manager and physiotherapist at the Newton office, says concussions are often mistreated.

"Unfortunately, the (doctors) have to know so much. Ten, 15 years ago, concussions weren’t really something we paid attention to," Peters said.

"If you got your bell rung, you kind of just played through it. Now we’re starting to pay attention to it a bit more."

Peters said that there isn’t too much "concrete evidence" on concussions at the moment because there isn’t technology available to measure how the human brain has recovered from the injury.

Doctors were giving advice to patients based on how they were feeling and the symptoms they were suffering from.

"There’s a lot of new literature that comes out each month that needs to be verified and looked at. One piece of research unfortunately doesn’t amount to change in practice. We need to keep building on the knowledge," he said.

Peters said one of the most effective ways to treat concussions is to get baseline testing done.

The tests measure a number of things like balance and eye-tracking speed, which can change as a result of a concussion.

"People are sceptical of doing a baseline test. They say, ‘Well I don’t do a baseline test for my arm strength before the season. What if I injure my shoulder?’ With those orthopaedic injuries (the shoulder injuries, the back injuries), they’re easier to measure how well someone is doing.

"We have a good grading system for how strong someone is. Brains are so variable between each person," added Peters.

Concussions occur when the two different types of matter in the brain – white and grey – mix after it takes a blow.

The two matters have a different density, which causes a concussion.

After suffering a concussion, the brain uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as energy. The ATP levels in the brain begin to drop due to the added usage and it is believed to take 15 to 30 days to get those levels back to regular levels.

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