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News Release - Manitoba

March 13, 2014

Province Announces New, Specialized Concussion Clinic for Youth to Open in Winnipeg

Partnerships Create Unique-in-Canada Approach to Child Concussion Treatment, Research: Premier Selinger

Children and youth with concussions will be able to receive specialized care from newly recruited concussion experts and benefit from world-class research through a partnership with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Pan Am Clinic and the True North Foundation, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“From the hockey rink to the football field to the playground, our kids are staying active and having fun, but with that comes the risk of concussions,” said the premier.  “The good news is the experts in this field now have a better understanding of how to treat concussions and prevent long-term issues.  This new program will offer co-ordinated research, expert medical treatment to young people and peace of mind to their parents.”

The Pan Am Concussion Program will be located at the MTS Iceplex.  Children and youth who have suffered a concussion and require ongoing care can be referred by the Children’s Hospital to the program where concussion experts can assess a range of potential issues, such as balance or cognitive changes, develop a care plan and monitor their recovery to determine when it is safe for them to return to learning and playing.

The new program is expected to see referrals for as many as 30 patients under the age of 18 every week.  Care will be provided by a team of experts at the forefront of the field of concussion care and research.  It will be led by Dr. Michael Ellis, a neurosurgeon who trained under world concussion expert Dr. Charles Tator.  Ellis most recently worked at Toronto Western Hospital and has focused on treating and researching pediatric sport-related concussions.

“This program builds on the Pan Am Clinic’s roots and expertise as a sports medicine clinic,” said Arlene Wilgosh, president and chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.  “It also complements the expertise of those already working there as well as the important ongoing research being spearheaded by the clinic’s foundation.”

Referrals are already being accepted from the Children’s Hospital to Pan Am Clinic and the new clinic space at the Iceplex is expected to be ready for patient care in the fall.

“Concussions can be a particularly traumatic injury for children and youth because their brains are still developing,” said Dr. Wayne Hildahl of the Pan Am Clinic.  “This new program will bring together world-class experts in concussion care to help them return to health.”

The program will also feature a partnership with True North Foundation, the faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and other local experts to continue conducting innovative research into concussions including how they can most effectively be diagnosed and managed.

Some of the program experts will also act as consultants to the Winnipeg Jets on concussion injuries.

“Concussions and their long-term effects have come to light largely due to their impact on professional sports,” said Mark Chipman, board chair of the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation.  “However, concussions are not just limited to sports and to professional athletes.  This program and facility can properly assess and treat head injuries in our youth so the long-term effects of the injuries won’t be as devastating to our children’s futures.”

In addition to direct patient care and new research, the concussion program will forge partnerships with other medical professionals, teachers and minor sport to create a broad provincial focus on concussion care and safety, the premier said. This will include partnering with educational leaders to develop protocols on when and how it is safe for children to return to learning after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

“As a National Hockey League player who lost almost a whole year at one point in my career because of a concussion, I can attest to how important it is to have this problem properly diagnosed and treated even at the earliest ages,” said Jim Slater, centre for the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club.  “Concussions can be a difficult thing to recover from and the proper support is vital to making sure someone comes back at the right time and at the right pace.”

The program will also offer web-based educational resources for parents, coaches and teachers to help them:

  • identify when and where to seek care for concussions,
  • help children during their recovery, and
  • support children as they resume regular activities like school and sports.

The premier noted research findings will be applied to clinical work and have the potential to influence how concussions are cared for internationally.

“Locating this clinic at the Iceplex and connecting it with the NHL will allow us to advance research to improve the sideline assessment and management of sports concussion,” said the premier.  “This new program has the potential to serve an unmet need and will also help Manitoba become a national and world leader in concussion care and research.”

When a concussion is suspected, Manitobans should continue to seek treatment from their family doctor, pediatrician or emergency department first. 

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