Ontario fans of the Toronto Raptors watching a championship finals game last week suddenly saw a rough TV ad about the risks of concussions—a young women was hurt in a soccer game and started to bleed from her nose, but kept playing because she is "doin' whatever it takes." The ad was part of the provincial government's hard push against concussions in its Hit-Stop-Sit campaign.
The goal is to ensure young people across canada are safer by requiring checks if a young athlete appears to have suffered a concussion. The campaign covers coaches, families and athletes.
Michael Tibollo, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said he played hockey as a youngster, along with track and field events. As an adult, he became a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which he quit over concerns about getting his head hit.
Tibollo said a key element in the campaign revolves around a 17-year-old who died during a rugby game in 2013.
"We're shocking people with this, yes, but it's important to shock people so that they stop and recognize that when a person gets hit, there is potential for injury and seek the help that you need by sitting it out," he said. "Sit it out and see how you feel and then, at that point, if it's serious then, you know what, you seek medical attention."
Tibollo said a major factor in increased public concern about concussions is the increasing participation of girls and young women in sports and the recognition sports they play can lead to concussions, not just hockey. The law in Canada is called Rowan's Law, "named for a young lady who was hit in three different practices and games and ended up with a fatality as a result of it."
The cabinet minister said there is a need to end the "warrior mentality" of playing through head injuries without treatment.
"We have to remember that these are young people. Their brains are not fully developed, at least until they are 24, and any major trauma to the head is gonna to have an impact on that person's ability to function as an adult later on," he said, "and it could, like I said, lead ultimately to what happened with Rowan Singer, it could lead to an early death."
One of the most vocal exponents of better concussion care is Eric Lindros, a former NHL player who saw his career shortened by head injuries.