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NHLPA gift to support game-changing research

December 15, 2015

NHLPA supports game-changing research
Dr. Michael Strong, Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, with Eric Lindros, NHL All-Star, at the See the Line event in August 2015.

Walk it off. Chances are, if you had a sports-related concussion more than 10 years ago, this was the only advice you got.

But times are changing. Medical experts agree concussions are serious injuries to the brain, and may be associated with long-term conditions such as depression, early-onset dementia, and even Alzheimer’s. In Canada, more than 160,000 people experience a concussion every year, and half of all concussions are sports-related. There are currently no treatments to ensure recovery from concussion or clinical indices to determine when an injured athlete can safely return to play.

At Western University, Dr. Arthur Brown and the Brain Injury Research Group are working on a therapeutic intervention to treat concussion when it happens, and to prevent the damage that causes long-term negative effects.

In support of this research, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) recently announced its generous challenge gift of $500,000. This generous gift will serve as the foundation for a $3.125 million fund that will enable a team of researchers, led by Dr. Brown, to investigate and develop new ways to treat concussions and to arrest the short- and long-term devastating consequences of concussions.

“Enhancing the ability to diagnose and treat concussions would obviously be important achievements, and we hope that this contribution goes a long way to further research in this area,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “We are pleased to provide support to Western in this critical area.”

Dr. Brown, an associate professor and a principal scientist at Robarts Research Institute at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is working collaboratively with Greg Dekaban, PhD, Director, Molecular Medicine at Robarts, and Dr. Michael Strong, Dean, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Their work has led to the development of a research program focused on three key areas: immunomodulation (treatment of injury-induced inflammation), neuro-restoration (maximizing the regenerative capacity of nerves after injury has occurred) and prevention of concussion-related dementia.

“We are fortunate to have a collaborative research environment in London dedicated to investigating all aspects of concussions, from the arena and lab to the patient’s bedside,” said Dr. Strong. “The strength of the research being conducted by Dr. Brown and an interdisciplinary team of researchers is putting us on a path to actively and effectively treat people with concussions. We are grateful to the NHLPA for their leadership commitment, which is providing the catalyst to engage a broader team of supporters to drive concussion therapies beyond clinical trials and into clinical applications.”

Former NHL All-Star Eric Lindros, together with a group of committed volunteers, is building a team of concerned parents, athletes and philanthropists to support this innovative research.

“Whether it’s your child, sibling or parent – head injury is an important topic,” said Mr. Lindros. “Although predominant in sport and recreational activity, concussions are a common injury suffered also in less expected environments such as transport, including cycling or motor vehicle collision. The collaborative research conducted by Arthur Brown and his team has many benefactors that include, but are not limited to the athlete. With the help of the NHLPA and the challenge they’ve set forward to people everywhere, my hope is that this research will one day lead to full recoveries for everyone living with a concussion.”

This announcement begins a one-year challenge to Canadians across the country, as well as the global community, to raise an additional $2.625 million to support the development of novel strategies that stop the damage caused by a concussion and improve long-term outcomes.

Editor’s note: At the time of printing this edition of Impact Western, Western received a gift of $100,000 in response to the NHLPA challenge match.

To learn more about The Concussion Project or to make a donation, contact Jan New, Executive Director, Faculties & Divisions Development (519.661.2111, ext.88458 or jnew@uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Impact Western
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