Collaboration will investigate the use of cannabinoids to treat concussions
Many professional hockey players have had their careers cut short or seriously affected by concussions. They are among the 1.6-3.8 million people who suffer concussions during sporting and recreational activities every year in the US.1, 2 In Canada, as many as 46,000 youths were diagnosed with concussions in 2016-17 by hospital emergency departments.3 The highest incidence of these brain injuries came from playing hockey, rugby, or ringette.3 Unfortunately, 10-15% of these people will go on to develop chronic post-concussion symptoms that can affect their ability to function.4 Former NHL players are the public face of this large and growing health issue and represent a highly afflicted group of elite athletes whose post-concussion health issues might be mitigated through the use of medical cannabis.
Spectrum Therapeutics is supporting a research partnership between the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) and NEEKA Healthcare Canada to investigate the efficacy of cannabinoids as a treatment for post-concussion neurodegenerative diseases such as depression, PTSD, and dementia.
The results of this original study may lead to new cannabinoid-based therapies that help athletes in hockey and other professional sports, along with adults who suffer from the aftermath of brain injuries from accidents and other activities.
“This complex and multidimensional study will give us an unprecedented understanding of the interaction between cannabidiol (CBD) and the brains and behaviors of former NHL players living with post-concussion symptoms,” said Dr. Mark Ware, Chief Medical Officer, Canopy Growth. “We thank the members of the NHLAA whose willingness to join this unique research partnership speaks to the need for alternative medical treatments to treat the long-term and often devastating effects of concussions.”
Glenn Healy, executive director of the NHLPA on stage making an announcement surrounded by people.
Glenn Healy, Executive Director of the NHLAA
“NHL alumni gave everything they had during their careers, but the physical consequences after they hang up their skates can be devastating for both players and their loved ones for the rest of their lives,” said Glenn Healy, Executive Director of the NHLAA. “This study offers alumni the promise of help and hope, and we are excited to participate in what could become a true game-changer in allowing these professional athletes to finish strong.”
Approximately 100 former players will be enrolled in this randomized double-blind study. The research will be led by NEEKA Healthcare Canada’s Dr. Amin Kassam, a world-renowned neurosurgeon who completed his undergraduate training at the University of Toronto and has led four neurosurgery programs over two decades. Joining Dr. Kassam is Dr. Richard Rovin, a neurosurgeon who completed post-graduate training through the Global Clinical Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard University Medical School. Their combined expertise in neuroscience, molecular cell signaling, brain mapping, and clinical trial design may lead to novel cannabis therapies that have the potential to improve the lives of patients suffering from post-concussion healthcare issues.
“We have seen the debilitating effects of chronic repeated head injuries on the lives of patients and their families,” said Dr. Kassam. “Our team is excited to partner with Canopy Growth and the NHL Alumni Association to demonstrate the immense and unexplored opportunity in cannabis-based remedies, particularly when synergized by novel treatment paradigms such as digital mental health and behavioural therapy.”
The study is expected to begin in summer 2019 and will take one year to complete.
The results of this unprecedented trial could also catalyze new research initiatives further investigating the potential of CBD as a treatment to help people recover from their brain injuries, including former NHLers.