Broadening the concussion discussion: UBC’s Concussion Research Lab gets new infrastructure funding

June 5, 2013

June 5, 2013 — If we’ve learned anything from this year’s NHL playoff season, it’s that getting your teeth knocked out is just a hazard of the business. The same could be said for a blow to the head, but whereas a tooth can be fixed with cosmetic surgery, a concussion can lead to forced early retirement, long-term disability and even premature death.

Media coverage surrounding head injury has made the public more aware of the problem, but there are still many unanswered questions regarding the diagnosis, treatment and management of a concussion, and more importantly, when it is safe for an athlete to return to the game. Funding announced today for new state-of-the-art infrastructure at the University of British Columbia’s Sports Concussion Research Lab will help shed light on these questions.

Paul van Donkelaar, the Director of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan, received funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) as part of an announcement today of $47.7 million for research infrastructure in support of 234 projects in 40 universities across the country.

Van Donkelaar’s award will fund new equipment and software that will allow him and his team to monitor brain blood flow to understand how concussions induce behavioural symptoms, such as a decrease in balance, attention and concentration. While most concussion researchers look at either brain blood flow, or behaviour changes or movement alterations, van Donkelaar’s lab will, for the first time, observe these effects together to determine how they are related. This in turn will remove some of the guesswork involved with diagnosis and treatment and will provide clinicians with the tools they need to make informed return-to-play decisions.

 “Contact sports aren’t going to go away,” says van Donkelaar. “They are part of our culture: hockey in Canada, football in the United States. Parents, athletes and coaches are still confused about the information that’s out there. This demonstrates a need for objective, evidence-based assessment of concussions.”

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation: Investing in research that builds communities

The CFI gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping attract and retain the world’s top talent, train the next generation of researchers, support private-sector innovation and create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit

For more information and interview requests:

Yves Melanson
Coordinator, Media Relations
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Office: 613-996-3160
Cell phone: 613-447-1723
yves.melanson [at]
Brian Lin M.J.
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Public Affairs Office
University of British Columbia, Vancouver Campus
Phone 604-822-2234
brian.lin [at]