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Glen Bergeron

e-dition - Oct. 20, 2006

Sports Injuries:
Making the Mind / Body Connection

Excerpt from the 2006 Research Booklet

When injuries happen in sports, athletes rely on athletic therapists to get them back in the game. However, treating injuries is only one part of a therapist’s job. Injury prevention and research are just as important, so Glen Bergeron and his athletic therapy students have been documenting injuries in Winnipeg high school football players for four years.

“Every year we’ve been providing the high school football league with a summary of the injuries that have occurred,” says Bergeron, Associate Professor of Kinesiology & Applied Health and Director of the Global College Institute for Health, Security & Human Potential. . “Then we do a breakdown of the injuries that have occurred per team so that they can compare their team in reference to the whole league.”

Coaches can use the information to improve their coaching strategies. For example, if one team finds that more injuries occur in the third quarter, it’s an indication that they might need a half-time warm-up to get players ready for second half action.

Two student therapists work with each football team. They care for players with injuries and document the injuries on palm pilots with injury-tracking software. They also record variables such as weather, field surface, practice vs. game, game quarter, and type of helmet.

This year, Bergeron and his students have added another component to their work. They are tracking and studying concussions.

“We now know that concussions have significant, although sometimes subtle, effects,” says Bergeron. “A student’s ability to perform academically in school could be affected by having sustained a concussion on the field.”

A concussion occurs when an impact, such as a knee to the helmet or a powerful helmet-to-helmet crash, causes the brain to shake inside the skull. Bergeron’s goal is to educate coaches and athletes that a helmet does not prevent concussions.

“They think it does, but it doesn’t,” he says. “Concussion awareness is one of the things we’re trying to have the biggest impact on. A helmet cannot protect the brain from shaking.”

Next year before the season, Bergeron and his students plan to test athletes for cognition and track the cognitive recovery of students who suffer concussions during the season. Student therapists can then assess when athletes are recovered enough to play.

“We’re in the community and collecting real-world statistics,” says Bergeron. “Winnipeg high school sports are a living laboratory for our students and our students are a great resource for our community high school football and hockey programs.”

To learn more about his research on sports injuries, contact University of Winnipeg faculty member Glen Bergeron at g.bergeron@uwinnipeg.ca or view the 2006 Research Booklet.

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