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‘We have a long way to go’: 90% of British Columbians can’t recognize a concussion

Dr. Shelina Babul with BC Children’s Hospital says quick action integral to recovery
Dr. Shelina Babul says more education is needed for both coaches and players in high-contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer. Photo by Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter

B.C. is in dire need of more concussion education.

A new survey from the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit found that just 11 per cent of the 900 people surveyed are confident they can recognize a concussion when it happens. It was also discovered that 76 per cent were unaware that concussions are possible without hits to the head and 62 per cent didn’t know a person with a concussion doesn’t need to be woken up every few hours.

Dr. Shelina Babul, a sport injury specialist at BC Children’s Hospital, says quick action is the most important aspect of concussion response.

“It’s all about immediate recognition and knowing what to do,” she told Black Press Media Thursday (Nov. 17). “We’ve come a long way in the last decade, but we have a long way to go.”

An estimated one in every 165 Canadian adults suffer a concussion each year – although this is considered by Babul and other experts as an underestimate in-part because many people are likely to not seek medical attention for this kind of injury.

Without instant awareness of a concussion, longer recoveries, post-concussion syndrome and lingering symptoms become more likely.

“We have developed the concussion awareness training tool—an online educational resource—because concussions can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

Recently, 26 universities across the country implemented concussion training for student-athletes. Part of the education is centred on making athletes less nervous about losing scholarships or playing time if they have suffered a bump, blow, jolts or shakes to the head.

There is also an effort to increase awareness in high schools and adding concussion education to the curriculum.

“We want people to recognize what causes concussions, what you may be feeling, the importance of stopping your activity immediately and knowing how to respond,” Babul said. “An immediate 24 to 48 hours of physical and cognitive rest is pivotal to recovery.”

Signs of a concussion can include dizziness, nausea, headache, light or sound sensitivity, ringing in the ears, irritability, fogginess, difficulty concentrating or confusion. Meanwhile symptoms that require immediate medical attention can be loss of consciousness, persisting and worsening headache, slurred speech and repeated vomiting.

Anyone, including athletes and coaches, can learn more about concussions through free, 30-to 55-minute training modules at

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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