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Canadians Bringing Awareness, Research and Funding to Canadian Sports Concussion Project

June 9, 2012


Charles Tator, CM, MD, PhD, FRCSC FACS, neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, professor at the University of Toronto, founder of ThinkFirst Canada, will be celebrated and thanked for the decades of work he has done on brain injuries and the mysterious effects of concussion.

There is likely no one who knows more about hockey concussions than Tator, and yet he would be first to admit he knows next to nothing at all.

“We know only the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “There remains a huge amount we do not know.”

Tator hopes to change that with an ambitious plan to raise, ultimately, $25-million for his Canadian Sports Concussion Project that is under way at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western. On the Monday following his USA Hockey award, he will meet with a new advisory group – which includes Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden and Boston Bruins star Marc Savard, who is still suffering the effects of concussion – and plans will be laid to turn the project into the leading source for brain injury research in the country, just as Boston University has been leading the way in the United States.

Already Canadian neuroscientists at Western have studied the brains of four deceased former CFL players – two found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), two without but showing signs of Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) – and have under study two more donated autopsied brains of Canadian football players.

“There will now be a Canadian counterpart to the work being done in Boston,” Tator says.

At the moment, he says, “We don’t have an accurate way of even diagnosing concussion.”

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