London News & Search
On the ice, four-time Olympic hockey gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser and NHL great Eric Lindros were team players — their sport required it.
And even though they’ve hung up their skates, it was clear from their message at Western University’s fifth annual See The Line concussion symposium that their team-building spirit has lingered, even in their new roles as concussion advocates.
“To get anywhere, everyone’s got to collaborate. Everyone’s got to learn from each other’s mistakes and learn from each other’s successes,” said Lindros, whose professional career was cut short by the brain injury.
“I wasn’t the player that I once was after going through concussions a number of times. It takes a toll on you.”
And like he has been doing for years, Lindros is out to make sure concussions get the public attention — and research dollars — they deserve.
“I think I can help,” he said. “I’ve got a wonderful group of friends that I can rely on to come through for me and make this a fun event.”
One of those friends, CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean, along with concussion experts and researchers, spoke at the sold-out conference Wednesday. The event, hosted by Western, its medical school and Robarts Research Institute, is meant to promote research, reduce concussions and boost awareness of brain injuries among doctors, coaches, players and parents.
While studying concussions and treatment options is important, Wickenheiser said the attitude held by players, coaches and parents about the invisible injury needs to change too.
Addressing the culture surrounding concussions is one goal of the Team Up, Speak Up education campaign, the project of the Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada, a partner of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western. The non-profit wants coaches and players across the country to take the pledge to notice and report concussions when they see them.
“You have the team leadership up there setting new social norms. Frame looking out for concussions as being a good teammate,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and chief executive of the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation.
“It’s that simple.”
Nowinski said concussed players often don’t have the ability to take themselves out of the game. They need people around who can watch for the symptoms and take the condition seriously.
Players of all ages are asked to take the simple pledge, snap a team selfie and spread the word online using the #TeamUpSpeakUp hashtag.
Wickenheiser said she wishes she knew it was OK to stop playing or speak up about her struggle after she took a hard hit on the ice while playing professional men’s hockey in Finland.
“I didn’t feel at the time that I had the choice to take time off . . . I think that that’s the scenario that a lot of athletes find themselves in,” she said, adding she felt dizzy, nauseous and sensitive to light for days, all while continuing to play.
“I sucked it up and I soldiered through, but for days and weeks I suffered . . . I think back now at how dumb that was.”
London News & Search