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UVic looks at how concussions affect the brains and hearts of aging athletes

Vancouver Island Free Daily - 12/7/2018

UVic's contribution to a global health concussion research project kicked off Thursday with one of the head researchers playing guinea pig.

Sport medicine physician Dr. Steve Martin was hooked up to a myriad of machines and put through the paces of a variety of activities from squat tests to visual challenge tasks, as a pilot test for UVic researchers examining the long-term impacts of multiple concussions on heart health and brain function.

"I've played rugby and other contact sports my whole life so I became the guinea pig," said Martin.

The research is in conjunction with Dr. Patrick Neary at the University of Regina and is part of an international study, Global Rugby Health Project. The hope is to establish new guidelines related to return-to-play protocols and greater knowledge about the relationship between brain injury and dementia.

"It is an important study to develop some objective tools to be able to identify when concussions occur and when they are resolving," said Martin. "That's going to be a big step forward if we can do that because right now concussion assessment is relatively subjective."

The UVic study is still looking for volunteers — men between the ages of 40 and 80, who have sustained concussions playing sport at any point in their lives. They are also seeking men of the same ages who have not had a concussion to act as control subjects.


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