U of C initiative researches concussions and sports injuries in Alberta youth

A Canadian team of University of Calgary specialists are taking their research on the road as they aim to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions.

The newly-created SHRed Mobile is a self-contained vehicle that is stocked with equipment as well as staff and students from the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre (SIPRC).

It'll be rolling through some Alberta cities and towns to form a better understanding of the burden and mechanisms of concussions in young athletes.

SHRed, which stands for Surveillance in High School and Community Sport to Reduce Concussions and Consequences of Concussions in Canadian Youth, set up camp near youth football games Saturday morning.

Dr. Carolyn Emery, an epidemiologist and physiotherapist, is the team lead.

She wants to learn more about concussions and build on injury prevention strategies in communities across Alberta.

"We really want to reduce the burden of concussions in all of these sports," she told CTV News, "to make sure that these kids are still playing sports in their 20s and 30s and can have life-long participation in physical activity."

Inside the SHRed Mobile, research can be conducted on pre-season testing sessions, post-concussing testing, clinical testing, video analysis and usage of wearable technologies.

Staff will also be able to travel throughout Alberta to facilitate discussions with coaches and teachers to help instruct them about concussion and injury prevention.

"About 30 per cent of people (who get a concussion) will have prolonged symptoms, and there's millions of concussions that happen across North America each year," kinesiology associate professor and researcher Jonathan Smirl said. "So if we can help those people out, we can really make a big impact on the overall healthcare system. This is going to be a huge tool for breaking down those barriers and bringing our research to the community."

In order to complete this work, SIPRC is actively recruiting youth who participate in a set of specific sports or who have suffered a concussion as a result of a sports injury.

The sports include:

  • Football;
  • Rugby;
  • Ice hockey;
  • Ringette;
  • Sledge hockey;
  • Soccer;
  • Basketball;
  • Wheelchair basketball;
  • Volleyball;
  • Lacrosse;
  • Cheerleading;
  • Acrobatic and street-style dance and;
  • Wrestling.

Athletes are encouraged to sign up for the study through the SIPRC's website.