How can I help?
Prevention / education starts with us but hopefully doesn't end with us! We believe in the ripple effect.
Step 1: Educate yourself.
Whether you are an athlete yourself, a brother or sister, a parent, teacher, coach, or simply someone who knows a little bit about concussion and brain injury: consider that your knowledge might mean more games and more play in the long run. Spotting potential concussions and/or brain injuries is an important job. So is advocating for a preventative approach if one is suspected. Check out the information on our resources page.
BVBIA cannot do it alone; we need your help! So please consider stepping up in a way that is appropriate for you.
Step 2: Educate others.
Bulldozing in with the latest concussion guidelines and a defensive attitude won't do anyone any good, no matter how frustrated or scared you are. Asking questions can be a good place to start. Thinking strategically is also not a bad idea. Who is the best person to talk to? Where are your leverage points for getting more or better information out there? If we approach the situation with the long view in mind and start from a place of inquiry and appreciation rather than criticism, we are likelier to have our message received and responded to. Again, see our resources page.
Step 3: Expect but don’t accept pushback.
Admitting one has an injury is tough.
Admitting it when it is invisible and in the face of old-school attitudes ("Shake it off, you just got your bell run" / "He can still skate, so he's fine") is even tougher.
A paradigm shift in how people perceive a blow to the head or body is underway in our society, but there is still a lot of denial, hesitation and reluctance to admit a potential concussion or brain injury. See below the graphic for some cognitive biases I have heard in our community that minimize or dismiss the injury.
I have included these here because they get in the way of injury recognition and recovery.
- Availability heuristic: "I have a friend who is a hockey player, and he has had concussions, but he is doing fine".
- Bandwagon effect: "My Dad says I'm actually fine and I just need to work harder to get over this; he says by paying attention to it I am making it worse".
- Confirmation bias: "I am just tired. I can't actually have a brain injury. It was just a minor fender bender and I eat well and exercise every day."
- Conservatism bias: "But kids have been falling off things for thousands of years! They are resilient. They have to be. Plus, I can't watch her every second of the day."
- Ostrich effect: "No, I am actually doing fine. I know I seemed very upset when I called you last week but I have thought it over and I can't think of any way you could help right now."
- Selective perception: "It was just a fall off a ladder! I am not a pro football or hockey player. I can't feel this bad from something so small. It's just not possible. I can't believe it."
- Survivorship bias: "But look at all the other players! They are fine! You want me to pull my kid for the rest of the season? Are you kidding? His chance for a scholarship will be ruined."
There are always going to be people who do not want to believe the information and who don't want to hear it.
But our message isn't necessarily catastrophic: in fact, we want people to engage in an active life, over and over again. We believe the best way to do that is to know the symptoms and signs of injury so that a proper recovery takes place.
The real negative is doing the opposite: returning to play, work or school before symptoms have completely resolved, which increases the risk of acquiring another brain injury that will likely have an even longer recovery trajectory.
So please: if you know something about brain injury and/or concussion, think about sharing in a way that works for you.
Every personal anecdote, every story told, every admittance of how brain injury affected your life or the life or someone you know creates a ripple that gives this knowledge permission to surface. This small act may help someone. Maybe a family member. Maybe a co-worker. Maybe a neighbour. Maybe a friend.