What Sidney Crosby can teach us about concussions and soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries are amongst the most common injuries in a motor vehicle collision. Concussions are not as frequently diagnosed but can occur in even relatively low velocity impacts.

One of the questions we receive from some of our clients with soft tissue injuries or concussions (or in some unfortunate cases, both) is “How long before I am recovered?”

The answer to that question is important to us. We work with your doctors and specialists to find out the answer to that question, but the frank reality is that often, the answer is “as long as it takes for you to recover.”

Nowhere has that been more evident than with the story of Sidney Crosby.

Even non-hockey fans have likely heard of Sidney Crosby and his ongoing and very public injuries woes. After pair of hits to the head on January 1st and 5th 2011, Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion.

The impacts, at the time, did not seem especially dramatic or especially forceful, but nevertheless, Crosby did not return for the remainder of the 2010-11 hockey season. He returned for 8 games in November and December 2011, but experienced a relapse in his symptoms and remains out of the lineup as of today.

While he is skating with the team, he reports that he is not feeling well enough to return to the game.  Crosby recently learned that his ongoing post-concussion syndrome has been compounded or exacerbated by a soft tissue injury to his neck.

In an article for ESPN, certified orthopedic clinical specialist Stephania Bell notes that “The final consensus from Crosby’s medical team and a third independent party, Philadelphia-based spinal surgeon Dr. Alexander Vaccaro, is that Crosby is dealing with a soft-tissue injury in his neck and he is continuing to progress with his rehabilitation efforts.”

Soft tissue injuries (STIs), as noted, are very common, but can be frustrating for clients, doctors and even lawyers. Indeed, Ms. Bell notes:

Frustration is inevitable, especially for the athlete, since there is no definitive timetable for recovery with these types of injuries, no visible way to measure whether the system has fully repaired itself. The ultimate tests for readiness to return to sport are gradually increasing levels of exertion followed by anxiety-producing waiting periods after exercise to see if symptoms creep back. In a world in which many everyday questions are readily answered via an Internet search engine, often within a fraction of a second, uncertainty and ambiguity often border on the unacceptable. While many looking in from the outside might feel that way, Crosby seems to recognize that such is the nature of these injuries and this latest episode is just another chapter in the story of his career, one that he hopes to turn the page on soon so he can get back to playing hockey.

Crosby is likely receiving the best care possible, but it is clear that he is hearing the same answers from his doctors and treaters as many of our clients.

Crosby’s tale is a good reminder to us all that soft tissue injuries and concussions are highly variable in terms of recovery time and prognosis not just for elite athletes, but for all of us. Like Crosby, the road to recovery for a person injured in a motor vehicle collision, can sometimes be long and frustrating.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision – whether you suspect you have a soft tissue injury, concussion or not – it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Our ICBC consultations always free. Don’t hesitate to contact us to book your appointment.