Legendary quarterback to give keynote at concussion symposium

Legendary quarterback Matt Dunigan will give the keynote address at a symposium on sport concussion at York next Monday.

Blow by Blow: The Second Annual Donald Sanderson Memorial Symposium on Sport Concussion is open to the public – athletes, coaches, parents, researchers and anyone interested in the physical and psychological impact head injuries can have on individuals and their families.

York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science will host the two-hour evening event, which will bring sports medicine and brain researchers together with athletes to discuss an injury that continues to Matt Duniganimpair the careers and health of both amateur and professional athletes − most recently, hockey champion Sidney Crosby.

The symposium is held in honour of Donald Sanderson, the York kinesiology student and promising hockey player who died Jan. 2, 2009 as a result of a head injury during a Whitby Dunlops game.

     Right: Matt Dunigan

“Educating our student athletes about head injuries is critical,” says Cindy Hughes, manager of the Gorman/Shore Sport Injury Clinic in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, who helped organize the symposium. “They need to understand the importance of reporting a possible concussion right away so they can receive the proper care.”

Dunigan, a game analyst with TSN since 1996, played football for 14 years on five Canadian teams and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He retired from football in 1996 after suffering at least a dozen diagnosed concussions, and continues to struggle with the long-term effects of those concussions. He will speak about the post-concussive symptoms he has experienced since retirement and the effect of concussion on himself and his family, as well as the importance of reporting concussion and taking it seriously. A champion of research on sport concussion, Dunigan announced last spring that upon his death his brain will be donated to Toronto’s Krembil Neuroscience Centre.

Dahna Sanderson, who established the Donald Sanderson Memorial Trust Fund in memory of her son, will also speak during the symposium. A sports mom and fan for 20 years, she coached professional figure skating and is passionate about sports and sports safety.

Dr. Paul Echlin is a primary care sport medicine specialist, certified in family and sports medicine in Canada and the US. Currently practising in Burlington, he has been a junior hockey team physician for the past decade in Canada and the US. He is a research chair of the Hockey Neurotrauma and Concussion Initiative Research Committee and is primary investigator of the Hockey Concussion Education Project.

Lauren Sergio is a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York’s Faculty of Lauren SergioHealth. A neuroscientist, she studies the effects of age, sex, neurological disease, head injury and experience (élite versus non-élite athletes) on the brain’s control of complex movement. She works with a wide range of adults, from NHL draft prospects to Alzheimer’s disease patients, using behavioural and brain imaging techniques.

Left: Lauren Sergio

Roy McMurtry, York University chancellor and former chair and chief executive officer of the Canadian Football League, will deliver opening remarks. Award-winning CBC sports reporter Teddy Katz will MC the event.

The symposium takes place in the Price Family Cinema, Accolade East Building, from 7 to 9pm. Admission is free, but registration is required. To register and for more information on speakers, visit the Blow by Blow symposium website.