Lindros backs concussion bill

The Canadian Press
Allison Jones

By Allison Jones

TORONTO—Former NHL star Eric Lindros is lending some high-profile support to an Ontario private member’s bill on concussions that has become stalled.
Rowan’s Law is named for a 17-year-old girl from the Ottawa area who died after being injured while playing high school rugby.
The bill would establish a committee to get the recommendations that came out of the coroner’s inquest into her death implemented within a year.
These include establishing guidelines to ensure a child is removed from play if a concussion is suspected, and that they not return to play until receiving medical clearance.
Lindros, who suffered multiple concussions over his career and missed an entire season after a head injury, said it’s important to establish a culture of everyone involved in sport acknowledging the need for caution—even when an athlete is eager to get back out on the ice or field.
“While maybe a ringette game for a 14-year-old doesn’t mean the world to you as it would a Game 5 of a Stanley Cup scenario, in their mind it is,” he noted.
“It’s about a philosophy and a culture that is open with one another, both player, organization, officiating, parents, being open about this, saying, ‘You know what, we know you want to play but let’s just pull back a bit.’”
Rowan Stringer died in 2013 from multiple concussions and her father, Gordon, said he learned during the coroner’s inquest that she actually Googled concussion.
“Being the captain of the rugby team, I think there probably was some feeling of responsibility with that, too,” he noted.
“There are pressures there that you won’t ever know. I can only speculate.”
Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod, who introduced the bill, which is co-sponsored by Liberal John Fraser and New Democrat Catherine Fife, said it is stalled even though it has all-party support.
It passed second reading on Dec. 10 and has not yet been brought to committee.
“We need to be at a point where the young athlete that Eric was talking about, the 14-year-old, goes to the coach or goes to a friend and says, ‘I think I’ve got a concussion,’” MacLeod said.
“We need to create a culture, I believe, that allows this child, or even a professional athlete, to take themselves out of play until such time that they are healed.”
A study last year from Toronto’s York University and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found the number of children and youth treated for concussions in both emergency departments and doctors’ offices in Ontario has risen significantly.