Just over a year ago, my boyfriend came home from a weekly beer-league hockey game with some buddies struggling to make sentences and stand upright. He had suffered his ninth concussion from hockey and after that many, as you can imagine, the recovery process gets tougher and takes longer. For months, he was very sensitive to noise and the perceived volume in a crowd of people was often too much for him to handle. We left family gatherings, BBQs, and even concerts early for the six months to follow as crowds and noise continued to bother him. He tried to go back to hockey in the fall after taking the summer off, but thankfully threw the towel in after a couple games into the season. His mother and I were relieved to hear the news although it’s so tough to watch someone you love stop doing something they love.
Sometimes, it comes down to Seeing the Line.
Today, down at Western University Campus, a sold-out crowd gathers in the name of shifting our ideas around concussions in sports.
See the Line is an annual event at UWO with a focus on new research around concussions, education and awareness. At 17 years old, Rowan Stringer died after being hit in the head twice in less than one week playing high school rugby. Her parents, Gord & Kathleen are speaking at Western University today to a sold-out crowd filled with 700 athletes, coaches, and parents.
Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentisty hosts the event, now in its fourth year. Here’s a quote from Dr. Michael Strong, Dean of Schulich Medicine and Dentistry:
“The more that people understand the grave consequences of concussion injuries, the more likely they are to remove themselves from play when they suspect they have had a concussive event.”
This afternoon, cutting-edge concussion research will be shared. There will be a panel discussion including Rowan’s parents, and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and See the Line Honorary Chair, Eric Lindros. This afternoon’s participants will also celebrate the passing of ‘Rowan’s Law’ with an address from Lisa MacLeod, MPP Nepean-Carleton, who put forward the private member’s bill for establishing new concussion protocols in Ontario.
“One of the first people in the medical community that I reached out to when I decided to take on Rowan’s Law as a private members bill, was Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Dean, Dr. Michael Strong,” said MacLeod. “It’s natural that this year at See the Line we celebrate the passage of Rowan’s Law because right from the beginning it was this University in London, Ontario that stepped up to the plate.”
Today’s events at Western University are in partnership with London Health Sciences Foundation and the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, as well as London’s hospitals, research institutes, and the faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering at Western.
The keynote speaker for the Symposium is Dr. Douglas Smith, Director of the Centre for Brain Injury and Repair and professor of neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
The panel discussion includes Eric Lindros, retired NHL hockey player, 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and See the Line Honorary Chair; Gordon and Kathleen Stringer, parents to Rowan Stringer, advocates for Rowan’s Law; Greg Wojt, retired CFL offensive lineman, Edmonton Eskimos, Grey Cup Champion, two-time CFL All-Star; Allie Fischer, local basketball player, athletic career sidelined due to multiple concussions; Robin Bone, Canadian pole vaulter, three-time CIS Champion, four-time OUA Champion, 2016 FWP Jones Trophy winner, Western University; Tyler Varga, former running back, Western University, Yale University and NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, OUA Rookie of the Year, CIS National Freshman of the Year, three-time All-Ivy honoree, 2014 Offensive Player of the Year, 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year, retired from the NFL on July 26 at age 22.