Symposium tomorrow takes blow-by-blow look at concussions

Alyn McCauley knows a thing or two about concussions. The retired National Hockey League player suffered several concussions, some almost career-ending, during his hockey career, which spanned more than a decade. McCauley will talk about his experiences as an athlete tomorrow at Blow by Blow: Sport Concussion Management, the Donald Sanderson Memorial Symposium on Sport Concussion.

Right: Alyn McCauley

Many of McCauley’s concussions occurred when he was a junior player, before he played a single NHL game, including one that sidelined him for about half of the 1998-1999 season as an up-and-coming hockey star – he won the Canadian Hockey League player of the year award in 1996-1997. He went on to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings, but concussion issues continued to plague him and affect his contributions on the ice.

The Blow by Blow: Sport Concussion Management symposium will run tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, in the Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus.

The symposium is in memory of Donald Sanderson (left), a former York student who died from an injury sustained from a concussion during a hockey game last year. Donald fell during a fight, hit his head and went into a coma until he died a few weeks later. The Donald Sanderson Memorial Trust Fund has donated funds toward the symposium and the School of Kinesiology & Health Science’s annual student awards to help share important knowledge about concussion management. Dahna Sanderson, Donald’s mother, will deliver the opening remarks at the symposium.

Among the speakers is Professor Jason Mihalik (right) of the Department of Exercise & Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose primary interest involves the study of sport-related neurotraumatic injuries, with a particular emphasis on youth head and neck injury biomechanics. Mihalik will talk about recognizing and managing trauma. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association and is a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. He also serves on the editorial board for Athletic Training & Sports Health Care and is the research director for the J. Pat Evans Research Foundation.

Alison MacPherson (left) of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, who has a long-standing interest in childhood injury research, will discuss the epidemiology of sports-related concussions – incidence, risk factors and prevention. In Ontario, over 6,000 youth and children were seen in emergency departments for a sport-related concussion between 2002 and 2005. Concussions were most common among 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds playing hockey, followed by bicycling, skiing/snowboarding and football.

MacPherson has been involved with research related to childhood injuries in general, and bicycle-related and sport-related injuries specifically. She is the co-principal investigator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded study on child and youth injury prevention. She was the first recipient of the Faculty of Health Early Career Research Award and has served as a reviewer and author for the World Health Organization report on child injury prevention. She is also a member of the Think First Foundation’s Board of Directors and Safe Kids Canada’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Also speaking at the symposium is Dr. Paul Piccininni (right), a sports medicine staff member at York University and team dentist for the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors of the Ontario Hockey League. He will give an update on mouthguards. He has worked at the last nine Summer and Winter Olympic Games, including Vancouver 2010, and has coordinated medical services for world championships, including basketball and ice hockey. He is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation Medical Committee and the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission (Games Group), president of the International Society for Dentistry, Sport & Trauma, and is a Fellow of the Academy for Sports Dentistry.

The symposium costs $20 per person and is free for youth under 17 and all York University students with ID. The location is fully accessible. Light refreshments will be served. Parking is free to registered participants in the Student Services Parking Garage.

To register online, click here. For registration information, contact Rumina Habib, registration and convocation assistant in the Division of Continuing Education, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, at ext. 44617 or

For additional information about the event, contact Cindy Hughes, head athletic therapist/manager of the Sport Injury Clinic at the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, at ext. 77232 or