How Western University aims to reduce sports-related concussions

Despite the celebrity-association with sports-related concussions (cue Sidney Crosby, Eric Lindros) there continues to be a lot of misunderstanding about the injury.

 April 23, 2011:  Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (#52) lays on the ice after being hit in the head with the puck during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals NHL playoff series at Verizon Center against the New York Rangers.

photo credit: clydeorama via photopin cc

In fact, of the 100,000 concussions which occur in Canada each year, more than half happen while people are playing sports. In the U.S., concussion rates among high school students doubled from 2005 to 2012.

Now Western University, which has long been a leader in concussion research and awareness through its See the Line initiative, has joined forces with the Sports Legacy Institute in the U.S.. Their partnership aims to further enhance research and programs to reduce the “concussion crisis” in sports.

According to CHCH, new programs will include advanced concussion training and a ‘brain and brawn’ camp for athletes. An existing program out of Wilfred Laurier University, where athletes educate others in the community about concussion, will continue.

Former CFL player Tim Fleiszer, now the executive director of  the Sports Legacy Institute Canada, told am980, “… This is a big step towards solving the concussion crisis in Canada.”

Cheerleaders performing

photo credit: Michi Moore Images via photopin cc

The timing couldn’t be better. New research shows that concussions happen across the board in sports, not just in the seemingly accident-prone hockey, football and boxing the injury is associated with. In particular, there are high rates of concussions in competitive cheerleading (imagine what happens when you’re being thrown 20-feet in the air by your teammates), women’s soccer and lacrosse – the fastest growing high school sport in the States.

According to Dr. Robert Harbaugh, director of the Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences and chair of the department of neurosurgery, research shows that concussions are the result of a rotation of the head on the neck. Because of this, injuries are more likely to occur when players run into each other as opposed to when they are hit on the head by a ball.

According to Dr. Harbaugh and reported in, concussions are more frequent in women’s soccer, especially amongst children and teenagers, because men and boys have more neck muscle than women and girls.

woman soccer player injured

photo credit: Alana Holmberg via photopin cc

As Crosby told the Globe and Mail in 2013,  “Concussions are still kind of a mysterious thing. We do know a lot more now, but there are still things that we can learn and hopefully ways and methods we can learn to either heal or to find out more about the actual extent of the injuries.”

Hopefully this new partnership will solve some of the concussion mystery, and crisis.

See the Line

London Health Sciences Foundation


Sources: CHCH +


Posted in Concussion, Sports and fitness | Tagged , , , , ,

BIST’s 10th Anniversary Party!

Photos and words by: G. IAN BOWLES 

July 28th was the celebration of BIST’s 10th anniversary, marking 10 years of activity, growth and helping those who have survived brain injuries.

BIST 10 year anniversary cake
Often there are specific themes to the BIST community meetings, such as answering questions people have asked, addressing concerns or encouraging proactive communication. So those who attend are treated to some education as well as some fun. Not that the 28th was not like that, but the theme was entirely one of celebration. A band (Cougar Bait) was brought in, there was karaoke and dancing, and dinner was provided.

The cake was particularly special, made up of cupcakes with a single layer of frosting between them all.

Many of us reconnected with friends we had not seen for a long time, we also met new acquaintances.

Several speakers gave their memories of the last ten years, from humble beginnings through a time without any organization that brain injury survivors could call their own. Since then we’ve grown to where we have our own office and staff, dozens of meetings through the year, have received grants and are actively fundraising. We’ve come quite far, and the event was a great recognition of the effort that’s been made.


Find more pictures of BIST’s 10th anniversary celebration here

BIST members do karaokeBIST members hug each otherBIST chair Judy Moir gives a speech IMG_2065

BIST members talking and laughingBIST member does karoake with a band memberBIST member does karoake BIST member gives a speech


Posted in BIST event, Community Meeting Round Up | Tagged , ,

Know Your Tenant Rights!

Got landlord problems? It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

apartment for rent sign


First, your rights as a tenant depend on what kind of tenant you are considered to be under Ontario lawThe Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) covers tenants who rent in places such as rooms, mobile home parks, apartments and retirement residences.

People who are not covered by the RTA include:

  • People who live in a space that’s shared with the property owner (for example, you share a kitchen with the owner of the property)
  • People who live in a space that’s designated for businesses
  • People who live in accommodation that’s considered ‘temporary’
  • If you live in another tenant’s home

If you are not covered by the RTA, Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has information on your rights here and also lists places where you can get legal advice here.

delapitated rooming house


Highlights of your rights as a tenant under the RTA:

  • Landlords have the right to file a notice a “Notice to terminate for nonpayment of rent” if your rent is late by one day. After receiving this notice, you have 14-days to pay up. (If you are a daily or weekly renter, you only have seven days to pay). If you haven’t paid your rent within that time, the landlord can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board to get their payment. In Ontario, most evictions are because of rent arrears.
  • If your landlord is trying to evict you, they need to follow the steps outlined by the Landlord and Tenant Board. During this time, you should receive three notices with information as to when your landlord wants you to leave your home and why, confirmation that your landlord has applied to the Board in order to evict you, and a notice of when your hearing will take place.
  • As a tenant, you are not allowed to stop paying rent because your landlord hasn’t done repairs.
  • The landlord is responsible for repairing your unit, you are responsible for the daily cleaning of your unit.
  • If there is a ‘no pet’ clause in your rental agreement, and you have a pet, you can not be evicted on the basis of having that pet. But if your pet damages the property, this may be a reason to evict you.
  • Your landlord can enter your unit as long as they give you 24-hours notice. However, there may be specific circumstances where your landlord can enter your unit, which are covered under your rental agreement. A landlord can also enter your unit without notice in an emergency situation.

Where to get help

If you are having a legal issue with your landlord, the best thing to do is to contact your local community legal clinic. You can also call the Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494.

If you feel your human rights have been violated or you’ve been discriminated against in a housing situation, you can call the Centre for Equality Rights in Accomodation (CERA) at 1-800-263-1139 ext. 1.

For more information:

        • The Federation of Metro Tenant Associations has a ‘Tenant Survival Manual’ here
        • CLEO has information about the RTA here
        • CERA has this video about human rights and housing:

To speak to someone about your rights as a tenant,

call the Tenant Hotline at 416 921-9494,

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday to Friday

Sources: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Centre for Equality Rights in AccomodationCLEO, Community Advocacy and Legal Centre, Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations




Posted in Housing, Rights | Tagged , ,

What to do When You or Someone You Love is Suicidal

Here’s something many of us know too well: brain injury survivors are at an increased risk of depression and suicide.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are services (see below) which can offer immediate support. Call a Distress Centre, or walk into an emergency room. You don’t need to make an appointment. Just call or go.

Recognize the signs

The majority of suicides are planned. This means there can be warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide, such as:

  • The person talks about how life would have been better if they had died, or would be better if they died.
  • The person begins to talk a lot about death and dying
  • The person gets supplies (such as a gun) they could use to commit suicide
  • The person is very depressed and isolates themselves from friends and family
  • The person loses hope
  • The person visits loved ones and begins saying goodbye as though it’s a ‘final farewell’
  • If a brain injury survivor has attempted suicide in the past, it’s important to be extra aware of these signs, because they are at greater risk of repeating an attempt

How to help

It can be a very scary and over whelming experience to see someone through a mental health crisis. Know there are no ‘magic words’ which can make the person’s suicidal thoughts, depression and / or anxiety go away. But just being there, even if you’re quiet most of the time, is a huge support.

  • Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of suicide. Ask straight out if the person is suicidal. You won’t be ‘putting’ any thoughts in their head if you bring up the topic.
  • Don’t dismiss or minimize what the person is going through. Statements like: “you should feel lucky to be alive” or “it’s not that bad” are not helpful.
  • Re-assure a person going through severe anxiety that the feeling will not last forever. Anxiety is very treatable. Distraction or breathing exercises can help.
  • Remember most people do not want to die, they want the pain they are experiencing to stop.

Distress Centres + Crisis Lines

Call a distress centre or crisis line any time you feel as though you (or your loved one) is in crisis and needs support. If you (or your loved one) is feeling suicidal, call. If you (or your loved one) is having bad anxiety, a panic attack or are feeling hopeless, call. If you get a busy signal, don’t give up. Keep calling until you get through. They’re open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (unless otherwise noted.) In an emergency, call 911.

Toronto Distress Centre: 416-408-4357 (HELP)

Gerstein Centre416-929-5200

Kids Help Phone (for kids and young adults 20-years and under): 1-800-668-6868

Seniors Crisis Access Line (for older adults in crisis, service is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.): 416-619-5001

For a complete list of distress centres in Ontario, go here

Mobile Crisis

At times, a mobile crisis unit can come and speak to a person who is contemplating  suicide or is in crisis. They’ll provide counselling, and may offer a safe place to stay for a few days. Some mobile crisis teams can also be accessed by calling 911.

Gerstein Centre: 416-929-5200

Community Crisis Response Program (North York and Etobicoke): 416-498-0043 

Emergency Rooms

If the situation feels like an emergency, it likely is an emergency. You can find your local emergency room here, or access the Emergency Assessment Unit at the Centre for Addicition and Mental Health (CAMH):

Emergency Assessment Unit at CAMH
250 College Street, (east of Spadina)
416-979-6885 ; 416-535-8501 ext 6885

For more information on services that can help once the crisis has passed (or if you feel as though a crisis is coming, and are trying to prevent it from happening) contact the Canadian Mental Health Association:   416-789-7957 ext 282 or 416-289-6285.

Sources: American Psychological Association,

Posted in Depression, Mental Health | Tagged , ,

BIST’s Summer Fun + Water Safety Reminder

Nothing beats hanging out by the water during hot, lazy summer days.

It’s easy to feel free and relaxed. And you should.

But it’s also important to remember the hard facts, that more people die from drowning in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada. Certain groups are at increased risk, especially two to four-year-olds, adults 60 and over, people who have lived in Canada for five years or less and men 18 to 49-years-old.

As most people connected with BIST know, surviving a near-drowning doesn’t guarantee things will be easy from then on. Brain damage can occur after the body has been deprived of oxygen for four to five minutes, which makes water safety a crucial component of summer-fun.

Here are some tips to remember when you’re out:

  • Two to four-year-olds are the highest risk group for drowning in the under-five age bracket, and these drownings usually occur near the water. The problem: curious little ones fall into water (such as an outdoor pool) they’ve wandered into in the brief moments their parents aren’t looking. Adults aren’t paying attention, because no one is actually swimming, they’re just near the water. Lack of adult supervision is the biggest risk factor that leads to young children drowning.
  • Young and mid-life men are at increased risk of drowning, particularly due to these at-risk behaviours: consuming alcohol while out in the water, not using a PFD (personal flotation device) when boating, going out in cold, rough waters and being out after dark. Another risk factor: going out on the water alone.
people swimming in an outdoor pool


  • New Canadians, especially folks who have been in the country for five years or less are four times more likely to be unable to swim than people born in Canada. Meanwhile, most people in this group consider swimming to be a very safe activity for themselves and their children.
  • Older adults can be at-risk of drowning if they suffer a medical condition while in the water, such as a heart attack. They may also be at risk if they do not modify activities they did when they were younger,  such as swimming across a small lake, that they’re no longer able to do. At the same time, not wearing a PFD, consuming alcohol while out on the water and going out alone are all risk factors which lead to drowning.
man and girl in a boat wearing life jackets


It’s important to reminder that drowning is a quiet, hard-to-notice event.

A young child can silently slip under the water in the bath, something a parent in another room wouldn’t notice. And most drowning victims can’t call out for help.

This video shows someone drowning in a crowded swimming area, while no one but the lifeguard notices:

 Here’s how to stay safe:

  • Watch kids all the time – especially when you’re near water but not necessarily swimming. That means if there’s a party at the beach or a pool, someone should be ‘assigned’ to watch the young children at all times. Take shifts, so everyone can have grown up fun and keep the kids safe.
  • Don’t swim or boat alone.
  • Wear a life jacket every time you’re in a boat.
  • If you’ve consumed drugs or alcohol, don’t go in the water.
  • Little kids who are not strong swimmers should wear PDFs.
  • Kids under five should not be further away than an arm’s reach from an adult.

Learn how to swim!

Learning how to swim is one of the best things you can do to keep you and your family safe in the water. Free or low-cost lessons are available from the City of Toronto – including lessons for adults. So dive in (safely) and have fun!

Sources: Life Saving Society + Ontario Medical Association

Posted in Sports and fitness, Summer safety | Tagged , ,

Pics from BIST/ OBIA’s 10th Annual Mix & Mingle

ddp-22 Mix and Mingle pictures Mix and Mingle pictures ddp-33 ddp-36-2 Take a look at these great pics from the BIST / OBIA Mix & Mingle!



ddp-92Mix and Mingle pictures
ddp-91-2Mix and Mingle picturesddp-84Mix and Mingle picturesddp-70
Mix and Mingle picturesddp-36Mix and Mingle picturesMix and Mingle picturesMix and Mingle pictures

10th Annual BIST/OBIA Mix & Mingle

June 11, 2014

Steam Whistle Brewery

Presented by McKellar

Posted in Mix & Mingle

The BIST Guide To FREE Toronto Fun – The QUIET TIMES, FEWER CROWDS Edition


Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit vendor


With traffic jams and massive street festivals taking over our city this season, it’s easy to think that every corner of Toronto is jammed-packed crowded, all the time. But fear not, it is possible to enjoy Toronto and avoid large crowds and too much noise. Here’s how:

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit

Are you an art connoisseur, or are you more in the category of, “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like?” No matter, there’s bound to be something to appeal to everyone at the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit. Held every year since 1961, the exhibit features 500 artists in a variety of art forms including painting, sculpture and ceramics. WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

July 4, 5 and 6, Nathan Phillips Square
100 Queen St. West, 416-408-2754

ROM Walks

Are you one of those people who have lived here for years, but don’t really know much about the Toronto’s history or architecture? Then one of the twice-weekly ROM Walks may be just the thing to get to know the city a little better. Walking tours are held Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings between June and October, each one exploring a specific neighbourhood or location, such as the Old Town, Yorkville, the Annex or the Necropolis Cemetery. Walk themes are cyclical, so if you miss one, the same walk will be repeated a few weeks later. CALL FOR ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION: 416 586-8097.

Sundays, 2-4 p.m. and Wednesdays 6-8 p.m. until October
Various locations, 416-586-8097
ROM Walks Brochure (PDF)

Music in the Garden

If classical or world music is your thing, then be sure and investigate the Music in the Garden series in the Music Garden at Harbourfront until mid-September.This summer’s concerts are so diverse, there’s bound to be something for everyone. WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Various times and dates
Toronto Music Garden, 475 Queens Quay West

Art Gallery of Ontario – Free on Wednesday Nights

Speaking of art, there are times when we may just need a bit of solitude – some time for quiet reflection away from the tribulations of everyday life. And what better space to find it than at the Art Gallery of Ontario?  Marvel at the Old Masters or discover something new you’ve never seen before in the beautiful Frank Gehry Redesign building on Dundas St. West near McCaul WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Wednesdays, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West (near McCaul)

Outside the Art Gallery of Ontario



Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is presenting numerous exhibits over the summer, including Vasco Araujo: Under the Influence of Psyche, Akram Zaatari: The End of Time and Pedro Reyes: SanatoriumWHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

231 Queens Quay West *Queen Quay is one-way only from Bay St. to Lower Spadina Ave. due to construction – see contruction updates here *

Heritage Toronto

Those particularly interested in Toronto’s history should definitely check out the walking tours offered by Heritage Toronto. Most are held Saturdays and Sundays and are about an hour and a half in length. While the walks are free, a donation at the end is always welcome.

Various times and lcoations, 416-338-1338

People on a Heritage Toronto Walk


Toronto Outdoor Club

Like keeping active? The Toronto Outdoor Club runs hikes throughout the city which are mostly free, guaranteed to help keep you fit, and let you discover new areas of our green city. You need to register for a hike in advance, and they fill up quickly. NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE

Toronto Outdoor Club


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