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Hockey tournament for youth concussion awareness set for November 27

From left to right, former Buffalo Sabres player Matthew Barnaby, former Buffalo Sabres player Andrew Peters, Dr. Elad Levy and Dr. Laszlo Mechtler discuss an upcoming hockey tournament hosted by PUCCS that will raise funds for youth concussion research.

Concussions are a known risk for athletes involved in contact sports.  With youth athletes becoming faster and stronger, head injuries such as concussions are becoming more common... and more severe.   Doctors are becoming more aware of the long-term effects of concussions but say more work must be done to further understand them and what connections may exist to other symptoms including depression, headaches and other physical problems.

The Program for Understanding Childhood Concussion and Stroke, or PUCCS, will host a charity hockey tournament on Sunday, November 27th at Holiday Twin Rinks in Cheektowaga.  Proceeds will go toward continued research.

"At what point does a community step up and say enough is enough?" said PUCCS board president Dr. Elad Levy. "How many children do we have to see not being able to finish high school, not being able to finish their year in middle school, not being able to have function of their arm or their leg, or lose vision or have a stroke because of a sports injury that may be avoidable, may be preventable or may be treatable?"

Sabres alumni will participate, including Andrew Peters, who began undergoing post-concussion treatment earlier this year.

"You know, it's exhausting.  It's scary to think that you're in that position," said Peters.  "I've done some testing and I do plan on resuming it soon.  I just wanted to take a little break from it.  It was getting to be a little overwhelming."

Those involved in raising awareness of youth head injuries are reaching out to coaches and parents, urging them to listen more carefully to their kids if and when they complain of concussion-related symptoms.

For more information about PUCCS and its upcoming tournament, visit the organization's web site at www.puccs.org.

In addition to Peters, former Sabres player Matthew Barnaby shared his personal story of multiple concussions and his concerns for what they'll mean for his long-term health.  His thoughts, along with additional thoughts from local head trauma experts, are available on the audio link.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.