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Injury brought concussion research close to home

by Jennifer Parraga | March 31, 2016

Challenge accepted
Gordon Thompson, BA’83

Concussions have hit close to home for Gordon Thompson, BA’83. It’s just one of the many, in a long line of reasons, this community philanthropist and father has joined a local team to build awareness of and support for concussion research.

A recent donation of $100,000, made by Thompson and members of his extended family, is an investment in concussion research at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Robarts Research Institute and the latest example of his dedication to this cause.

The donation, endorsed by the entire Thompson family, will support a team of researchers led by Arthur Brown, PhD, who are investigating and developing new ways to treat concussions and to prevent the short- and long-term devastating consequences.

Brown is working collaboratively with Greg Dekaban, PhD, and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Dean Dr. Michael Strong. 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.

The multidisciplinary and collaborative approach being applied to concussion research and the imaging capacity at Robarts were important considerations for Thompson and his family when deciding to make this donation.

Knowing that their donation would count toward the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) challenge to secure $3.15 million for concussion research was the final encouragement this London family needed to make their gift now, well before the challenge deadline of December 2016.

In addition to his philanthropic support, Thompson, along with his brother-in-law Peter Johnson, serve as members of the steering committee for See the Line, an initiative focused on raising awareness about concussion research and innovation through annual community events.

The duo became involved nearly four years ago. Alongside colleagues in research, medicine and business, they have planned several enormously successful events engaging thousands of community members during the past three years.

In 2008, Thompson’s son, McKenzie, suffered a concussion while playing football.

“When McKenzie was concussed, I saw the impact this type of injury can have on people,” Thompson said.

While Thompson believes he likely also suffered from a few concussions when he played football, it was his son’s concussion that motivated him to first become involved with See the Line.

It’s the hope the research at Robarts offers that keeps Thompson and his family optimistic for the future when it comes to concussions.

“We are excited by the possibilities this research can offer for concussions and the spinoff effects it may have for other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

He hopes others will be equally inspired, take up the NHLPA challenge and make a gift to support concussion research at Robarts.

To learn more about the Concussion Project or to make a donation, contact Kristen Lesko, Senior Development Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (519 661-2111, ext. 86237 or kristen.lesko@schulich.uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Impact Western
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