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Traumatic Brain Injury: Lessons we can learn from Sidney Crosby

On January 1, 2011, arguably the BEST hockey player on the planet, Sidney Crosby caught an elbow from Washington Capitals Forward David Steckel. Days later, on January 5th, Sidney Crosby was checked against the boards by Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Victor Hedman. Crosby bumped his head in both collisions. He felt “woozy”, had headaches, and simply wasn’t himself following these impacts.

Scans and MRIs returned negative, BUT doctors diagnosed that Crosby sustained a concussion (or a head injury). He was not medically cleared to return to action. Doctors and team management wanted to take every precaution necessary to ensure that Crosby’s brain injury would not put him at further risk. Former NHLers such as Eric Lindros, Brett Lindros and Nick Kypreos all had to cut their careers short on account of brain injury. Penguins team officials didn’t want Crosby to suffer the same fate as the aforementioned players.

While there is a distinction between a major traumatic brain injury and a concussion, it should be clear that no brain injury is minor. They will always have an impact on your life; as it did on Sidney Crosby. Crosby missed the remainder of the 2010/11 season, and did not make his return to professional hockey until November 21st against the New York Islanders. In the period of time he was away from the game, Crosby reported memory problems, balance problems, and co-ordination problems. Other symptoms synonymous with brain injury include but aren’t limited to fatigue, blurred vision, headaches, ringing in the ears, short and long term memory loss, moodiness, irritability, rage, loss of appetite, loss of concentration and depression.

Crobsy’s return to the game was nothing short of spectacular. At the time of writing this blog, he is averaging 2 points per game; which is more than any Toronto Maple Leaf (with the exception of Phil Kessel and Jeoffrey Lupul can boast).

Now, why am I writing about hockey you ask? For all of you that know me personally, I’m a much bigger basketball fan than I am a hockey fan. It’s because every personal injury lawyer in Toronto, or across the nation for that matter has followed this story closely, hockey fan or not. Personal injury lawyers have clients who’ve sustained “invisible” brain injuries (those brain injuries which don’t show up on a scan or MRI). The impact of those brain injuries is very devastating, and the Crosby story has shed some much needed light on the topic. If a brain injury in a hockey game put Sidney Crosby out of commission for close to a year, the same thing can certainly happen to the average person as a result of a car accident, bike accident, slip and fall, motorcycle accident, snowmobile accident or any other sort of high speed collision.

Brain injury, traumatic or not, major or minor are no laughing matter and need to be taken seriously. Failure to do so may result in long term consequences.

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