In The News

A Second Call for a Royal Commission on Concussions

Neilank is a Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon who has completed his MBA at Ivey and is currently at the London School of Economics pursuing Behavioural Sciences.

In 2011, with the support of my late friend & mentor Jack Layton, I appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics at Parliament calling for a Royal Commission on concussions for Canadians. At that time, parliamentarians asked me if I realized the cost, scope and purpose of a Royal Commission as they are reserved for important issues affecting a large number of Canadians.

I tried to explain that traumatic brain injury is a silent epidemic and is a crucial issue affecting a large number of Canadians.

The current invisible nature of the condition makes it challenging to advocate effectively for patients with traumatic brain injury. Once again in 2018, I took the opportunity on ‘The Agenda’ with Steve Paikin to renew the call for a Royal Commission on traumatic brain injury.

Rowan’s law is a good first step and puts Ontario on par with 50 states in the United States of America.

I do believe that the other provinces will follow suit and I can already see the increased awareness surrounding concussions as a result of the passed legislation. However, concussions don’t just happen to athletes, they occur amongst everyday Canadians – factory workers that have a box fall on their head, construction workers that fall from a ladder, police officers that are restraining a victim, nurses that are caring for challenging patients, teachers that are hit with an errant soccer ball at recess…the list goes on – you get the idea.

1.5 million Canadians are living with a brain injury with over 500,000 new cases each year with 20% experiencing persistent symptoms beyond 3 months.  In many cases Canadians lose their relationships, jobs & homes as a consequence of the injury.  Often, these workers are legislated back to work if they don’t recover within a few weeks and are subsequently denied modified duties, graduated hours or disability when the brain injury doesn’t improve fast enough.  Furthermore, these individuals often do not have funds for treatment with a physiotherapist, occupational therapist etc., to facilitate their recovery.  Our fellow Canadians are put into this vicious cycle with no way out in many cases.

We need to do better for our fellow Canadians

– worker safety boards and insurance companies in each province need to recognize the complexity of this condition and the importance of supporting patients through recovery.  We need to better educate our health care practitioners to recognize that 20% of concussions don’t recover within a few weeks and these cases require support.

From an economics perspective it doesn’t make sense to lose productive members of society to a disability that can in many cases be prevented with more resources and support.  A Royal Commission will potentially shed light on the cost effective analysis of providing support and care for our concussed individuals thus contributing to our overall GDP.  This is a case where providing more care is fiscally responsible.

Do you think concussions deserve a Royal Commission?

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