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Concussions are sometimes referred to as “invisible injuries”. While a person may look fine to family, friends, coaches, and colleagues, he or she might be suffering from the after-effects of a brain injury. That makes getting prompt treatment – a key factor in determining successful patient outcomes – more challenging.

More education, more access

Improved education and awareness to both health care professionals as well as the public is important to Shift Concussion Management (SCM), a company that began in 2013 with the aim to improve access to concussion care for patients across Canada in centres large and small. “Getting help soon is a critical part of treatment,” says Frances MacInnes, a physiotherapist with SCM.

That means reporting them in a timely manner and seeking medical attention quickly. Many people do not receive post-concussion care because they are unaware of the rehabilitation options available to them and may be fearful of speaking up — especially in the case of athletes. In other cases, many fail to recognize the symptoms which can include physical, cognitive, and behavioural changes.

But that’s not always the case. One of the biggest myths surrounding concussions is that you need to hit your head. The injury might look like “nothing” at the time, where the signs and symptoms continue to evolve in the hours to days following the incident.

Addressing myths around brain injury

“Sometimes people think concussions are the result of a hard hit,” she says, “but that’s not always the case. There might not be a loss of consciousness. It may be a case of symptoms developing in the hours, days, and weeks that follow the incident.”

SCM has a network of healthcare providers across the country with training in the management of post-concussion challenges and offers courses for clinicians on the most up to date research practices.

Ontario leading the way

Angela Drystek reaped the benefits of the company’s treatment protocol and focus on education after sustaining a concussion due to a bicycle accident in 2015. “I had heard about Shift from a friend,” she recalls. “I underwent their testing program which felt very comprehensive. My therapist listened carefully to all of my symptoms and prescribed realistic and helpful activities for the healing process.”

It is great to see Ontario become a leader in the country with Rowan’s Law for the education and management of head injuries in youth sports. SCM says they are excited to be able to continue moving forward with accessible and effective care for not only youth athletes, but all individuals facing concussion and post-concussion challenges.

Visit Shift Concussion Management for more information.

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