The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is proud to officially endorse Rowan’s Law, a private members’ bill in the Ontario legislature that aims to find better ways to prevent and treat concussions in children and youth and prevent tragic deaths like that of Rowan Stringer in 2013.
Rowan was a fun-loving and energetic girl who had a passion for sports. In 2013, while playing rugby, she suffered three concussions in a short period of time. Unfortunately, she never realized the severity of her injuries and sought the appropriate care. Her untreated concussions lead to Second Impact Syndrome. Rowan passed away on May 12, 2013 at the age of 17.
CHEO neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Vassilyadi treated Rowan in her final days. He believes, as many do, that Rowan’s death could have been prevented. So far in 2015, CHEO has seen 1,013 concussion patients in its Emergency department, up from 961 in the same period last year.
“Thanks to Rowan’s Law and its advocates, more people than ever before are beginning to recognize the symptoms and to understand the severity of concussions. This awareness will play a large role in preventing the long-term impacts caused by concussions as well as tragedies like Rowan’s,” said Alex Munter, CHEO’s President and CEO.
“Untreated symptoms of concussion affect day-to-day functioning and can have very negative long term consequences,” says CHEO’s Dr. Vassilyadi. “Children can experience many symptoms including physical symptoms, cognitive impairment, psychological and personality changes.”
CHEO is a big supporter of efforts to increase concussion awareness and treatment. CHEO’s concussion clinic has seen 128 new patients and 259 follow-up patients in the past year, helping them to recover from the long-term effects of concussion. The CHEO Concussion Clinic also takes a role in teaching medical students, residents and fellows to better care for concussions and is currently involved in two national studies aiming to improve concussion care for children. Furthermore, Dr. Roger Zemek, a scientist and CHEO emergency room physician, led a network of international concussion experts to create the world’s first comprehensive pediatric concussion guidelines.
A coroner’s inquest into Rowan Stringer’s death led to 49 recommendations to enhance concussion awareness and treatment. These recommendations include: making concussion awareness mandatory in Ontario’s curriculum, an annual Brain Day awareness campaign, and better ways for coaches and players to identify and treat concussions.
Family and friends of Rowan have launched an Ontario-wide campaign to support “Rowan’s Law” which would create an expert advisory committee to Ontario’s Premier that would advise on the implementation of Ontario-specific recommendations.
Bill 149, Rowan’s Law Advisory Committee Act, was introduced at Queen’s Park on November 25 by Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, Ottawa South Liberal MPP John Fraser, and NDP Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, and is scheduled to be debated on December 10.
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is the pediatric hospital of Canada’s capital and helps over 500,000 children and youth each year. CHEO has more than 2,500 doctors, nurses and staff dedicated to providing the best possible care for the children and youth of Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, Nunavut and parts of Northern Ontario.
CHEO works closely with the University of Ottawa as a teaching hospital and fosters groundbreaking research through the CHEO Research Institute. CHEO’s vision is to change young lives in our community, while our innovation changes young lives around the world. www.cheo.on.ca
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