UBC Neuroscientist to probe how science can inform the management of sports-related concussions

In recent years, concussions, as the result of sports activity, have gained the attention of sports enthusiasts and scientists alike.  Can we accurately diagnose when a concussion has occurred?  Do we know the best Featured imagetime for an athlete to return to play? Dr. Paul van Donkelaar, professor and Director of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at University of British Columbia Okanagan, will highlight key discoveries in how the brain is changed as a result of a sports-related concussion and how this knowledge will lead to improved initial diagnosis, management, and return to activity decisions.  This public talk, entitled ‘How can Science Guide the Management of Sport-Related Concussions?” is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series and will be presented on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Okanagan College’s Kalamalka campus.

A clinical neuroscientist, Dr. van Donkelaar heads a research program with the goal to gain a better understanding of how the human brain is able to plan and execute body movements. This broad question is studied in both healthy participants as well as in patients with damage to the brain due to a variety of injuries. In particular, Van Donkelaar’s team is studying how a concussion affects blood flow to the brain, and how that affects concentration, balance, and attention span.

“The big question”, van Donkelaar says, “is how do you know if an athlete who has suffered a concussion is really okay to play? They may feel fine, their symptoms may be gone, but what about any underlying, undetected damage to the brain? And a greater potential risk”, he says, “is the cumulative effect of multiple concussions, which could lead to long-term disability or even premature death.”

The Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College) is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Starbucks Coffee, Cooper’s Food, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets and more information, visit the Okanagan Science Centre at http://www.okscience.ca or call (250) 545-3644.

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