Media Release

St. Michael’s Receives Prestigious Grants to Study Trauma

Teams Will Study Brain Injuries in Hockey, Trauma Care in Rural Areas; Doctors, Athletes Seek to Raise Another $250,000 in Golf Tournament

Toronto, August 4, 2010

When the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) announced its latest awards for injury research, only five teams were on the list and two of them were headed by doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Cusimano will lead a team studying traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Researchers working with Dr. Avery Nathens, the hospital’s director of trauma, will examine rural Canadians’ access to trauma centres.

“There are only so many [team grants] available and so few resources available. If you get one, it’s a great achievement,” said Christine Lavictoire, a deputy director at CIHR.

The five-year STAIR (Strategic Teams in Applied Injury Research) grants must involve researchers in multiple locations and disciplines and a mix of experienced and junior researchers. The grants to Sr. Michael’s total nearly $4 million.

Dr. Cusimano’s team will look at TBI in sports such as hockey, in vulnerable groups such as the homeless, and in motor vehicle collisions and falls. They will also probe the link between violence and aggression.

Dr. Nathens’ team will examine what can be done to improve care for the 20 per cent of rural Canadians who do not have access to trauma centres during that “golden hour” when there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death. Due to the distribution of trauma patients and centres in Canada, half of all patients receive preliminary care someplace else before being transferred to a trauma centre.

Today (Wednesday, Aug. 4) St. Michael’s doctors and several prominent athletes and former athletes will be among those trying to raise another $250,000 to research the prevention, treatment and support of brain injuries at the Out of the Rough golf tournament at the Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, ON.

Celebrity guests include former NHL players Bryan Muir (the tournament’s co-chair), Johnny Bower, Nick Kypreos (whose career as a Maple Leaf ended as a result of a concussion suffered in a fight), Bob Nevin, and Scott Thornton, current Maple Leaf centre John Mitchell and former Maple Leafs General Manager Gord Stellick.

Also scheduled to play are Olympic rowing medalist Marnie McBean, Olympic skiing medalist Edi Podivinsky, former alpine ski champion Brian Stemmle (whose near-fatal accident in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in 1989 was considered among the worst in skiing history), sports car racer Ron Fellows and Leo Stakos, star of Fish TV.

Dr. Cusimano said the tournament was important, because brain injuries often disenfranchise those who suffer from them, robbing them of the ability to speak and raise awareness of brain injury and the need for research on their own.

Injury remains the leading cause of death for Canadians aged one to 44.and costs Canadians $19.8 billion annually. Traumatic Brain Injury accounts for 50 per cent or more of all trauma deaths, and an estimated 2 per cent of the population live with lifelong disabilities resulting from TBI. Brain injuries are seven times more common than breast cancer and 30 times more common than HIV. Up to 90 per cent of injuries can be prevented.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who walk through its doors. The Hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research at St. Michael’s Hospital is recognized and put into practice around the world. Founded in 1892, the Hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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