Medical science has made strides understanding concussions and brain injuries, which is why St. Davids resident Dow Wright says he was eager to listen to Dr. William Brown’s Infohealth talk last Wednesday afternoon – to learn how previous sports-related concussions might impact his memory now.
Wright said he was interested to learn about the advancements made in the field during the presentation on concussions at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library. It was the first Infohealth session he’s attended, though he said he’s been reading Brown’s column in The Lake Report regularly.
“I thought I would see if I could understand a little more and if I could do anything about it other than avoiding them, which is too late now,” he said.
Wright played sports throughout his life and suffered many concussions along the way. Though at 63 he’s still active, he said he’s transitioned into lower-impact activities. Where he would once mountain bike, he now rides on the road.
“And I play a lot of golf,” he said.
Over the last several years he said he’s begun to notice lapses in memory.
“As I get older, I start to notice memory issues or little things that I’m not sure are natural aging or something possibly related to past concussions or not.”
When he brought the memory issues up with his doctor about 10 years ago, he said he was met with, “It’s just a part of aging.”
And though he said that very well may be the case, he wanted to learn more about concussions for himself through the Infohealth session.
While Wright attended the session for specific answers about concussions, other residents like Alma and Earle Harvey have been attending Brown’s talks regularly.
“It’s always informative,” Alma Harvey said before Wednesday’s talk.
She said Brown’s talks always cover important health information that is just “good to know.”
Medical student Hannah Snyder, who is being mentored by Brown, led the latest session alongside fellow students Abhay Issar and June Dong.
Though there are still areas of uncertainty regarding the brain after injury, scientific studies have brought us closer to understanding how to recognize and treat concussions, Snyder said.
Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, often occur after a bump or jolt to the head, causing the brain to move rapidly back and forth within the skull.
While anyone can be at risk of possible concussions, Snyder said higher risks are associated with high-impact sports; vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle accidents; falling, especially in young children and older adults; and those who have previously experienced concussions.
Proven preventive measures include wearing protective gear and helmets during recreational sports, and getting regular exercise to improve strength, balance and co-ordination, she said.
One of the biggest concerns for patients is how quick they can return to work or play after a concussion, Snyder said. Patients should wait until they have had at least 24 hours of physical and cognitive rest, and should only return to work “as tolerated,” she said.
John Carter, a resident who also attended the presentation, said the medical students often steal the show.
“That’s another reason I come out to these talks,” he said. “They’re incredibly bright.”
He said he likes science and Brown always covers a wide range of topics. A neurologist, Brown doesn’t stick to solely neurological discussions, he said.
“It’s from that science interest that I’m here.”
Carter said he doesn’t come with any specific clinical interest; he just attends to learn what he can.