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Concussion discussion: Online learning tool launched for N.S. athletes

More than half of the concussions reported amongst youth in Nova Scotia occurred during physical activity or while playing sports but a new online learning tool is looking to lower that impact.

The Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia has partnered with Dr. Tina Atkinson, a sport and exercise medicine physician who runs a concussion clinic, and other partners to launch a new online concussion education module.

“People that are recovering from a concussion really need a good support network,” said Atkinson. “They need people who understand what they are going through and can support them along the way and know how to support them.”

The launch of the concussion course coincides with the provincial Concussion Awareness Campaign on September 27th.

The latest research shows that shows 15,000 people suffer a concussion annually with more than 50 percent of those brain injuries occurring during sport of physical play.

“Nova Scotia Concussion Awareness Day is really important because there is still a lot of misinformation about concussions that are out there in society,” said Atkinson. “We want to make sure people are up to date on concussion awareness and know what to do if they think they have a concussion or they notice maybe someone else might have a concussion.”

Atkinson is the chief medical officer of The Canadian Sport Institute Atlantic and Hockey Nova Scotia and says the online concussion course is designed not only for athletes but also parents and coaches.

“There are a few changes to how we used to treat concussion,” said Atkinson. No longer are athletes who suspect they have concussion supposed be kept awake all night. Instead rest is encouraged.

“In the first 48-hours you should rest,” said Atkinson. ”But what we call ‘active rest’ which means you don’t have to be in a dark room and avoid all stimuli but you can go for a walk and do things that don’t make you feel worse.”

The rest period is crucial to ensure the individual with the concussion doesn’t hit their head again.

Atkinson says no concussion is the same but there are several very common symptoms including headache, blank stare, feeling dizzy, stumbling around, not able to focus with their eyes, and not answering question clearly.

“But concussions are an evolving injury,” said Atkinson. “Your symptoms aren’t always obvious right away, there’s a lot of adrenaline while play sports so it can kind of mask it. So symptoms can evolve over the next few minutes, to an hour, or even the next few days.”

The learning module is and education tool that can be applied to anyone who has had a concussion said Atkinson but it’s really designed and purposed for athletes.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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