New website offers free concussion training 

Funded by province, website gives up-to-date tools on brain injuries for players, coaches and parents

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Treating concussions correctly Dr. Shelina Babur spearheaded the development of hte new Concussion Awareness Training Tool
  • photo submitted
  • Treating concussions correctly Dr. Shelina Babur spearheaded the development of hte new Concussion Awareness Training Tool

Dr. Shelina Babur shudders when she hears the phrases "getting a bonk to the head" or "getting your bell rung."

It downplays what's really going on inside your skull, which is more often than not, a concussion — a brain injury.

And it needs to be treated as such.

"The key is really to heed the warnings... recognize it's a brain injury," said Babur, who spearheaded the development of the Concussion Awareness Training Tool or CATT.

Cattonline.com is a new free online tool, directed at parents, players and coaches, in an effort to spread awareness about concussions and how to deal with them.

The website is easy to navigate, complete with videos including a 13-minute interview with Sidney Crosby on how it feels to live with concussion symptoms. It's also updated monthly with the latest information.

The provincial government funded the development of this latest tool.

"Government is committed to ensuring that British Columbians are aware of the importance of physical activity, but also have access to information on safety," said Health Minister Terry Lake in a press release. "This new website will be a great resource, providing information on how to prevent concussions and properly manage them."

Roughly 20 per cent of hospitalizations in B.C. annually are coded as concussions in the 0-19 age category.

Locally, Whistler doctors tended to 800 head injuries in 2012 at the Whistler Health Care Centre.

This online tool, directed at young athletes, is the latest tool as awareness and recognition of the health ramifications of concussions grows.

"We're hoping that parents who have children in sporting activities actually take part at the start of the season, so that they know how to recognize it should it occur, that they know what to do should it occur, where to go, what to ask," said Babur.

"The idea is really to ramp up education and awareness prior to it happening."

She added, however, that a child does not need to be in an organized sport; concussions can happen riding a scooter outside the house and so, this tool is for everyone.

It comes on the heels of the first CATT tool, directed at health practitioners, with an aim to standardize care in B.C.

"For those physicians that took the online training, it changed the way they practiced in the clinical setting," said Babur.

This second phase, directed to players, parents and coaches, is designed in the same way.

"So that they know how to respond should their child sustain a concussion, know where to look for credible, up-to-date information, questions to ask the doctor," she said.

"We built in a resource called the Concussion Recognition Tool that they can pull up on their iPads, or smartphones, and fill in a bunch of parameters on what to note, what to take to your doctor, those kinds of things, because we really felt that... we wanted to develop this set of tools, if you will, that really is a one-stop shop for various audiences."

Both tools cost roughly $60,000 to $70,000. A third online tool is in the works, directed at educators to address concussions in the school setting. It is set for release in early 2015.

Recent statistics show that $2.4 million was spent in one year on hospitalization for concussions and more than 6,500 concussions were seen in a year in the Lower Mainland.

"The biggest take home message is to take concussions seriously because a concussion is a brain injury," said Babur. "Understand that there's no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet because the mechanics behind a concussion is really a movement of the brain inside the skull so, regardless of wearing a helmet or not your brain is still going to be jarred. The helmet can mitigate, hopefully, the severity of injury. Understand that if you are suspected of having a concussion and you come off the sideline or come off the ski hill, you seem fine, there's no signs or symptoms, (it) doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have a concussion because those signs and symptoms may appear up to several days later.

"Err on the side of caution and stay away from physical activities for a couple of days until you're sure that nothing appears."

And, she added, don't return to activity until cleared by a licensed, knowledgeable health care provider.

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