By Amy Fendley From Paul Kariya to Cary Mullen, concussions have become big news in sports in recent years. The BC Brain Injury Association recognized this and, in partnership with the British Columbia Pediatric Society and the Sports Medicine Council of BC, has taken a special forum on concussion management in amateur sports to 20 B.C. communities. The last forum will be held in Whistler on Sept. 21. Funded by the Ministry of Children and Families, the forum will look at enhancing the enjoyment and thrill of contact sports by ensuring athletes’ safety through education and public awareness of the importance of protecting the brain from injury. "A little bump on the head may not be as minor an injury as one might like to believe," says Monica Sayers, director of development and communications for the BC Brain Injury Association. "A concussion can be severe enough to cause a life-long disability or in extreme cases even death. People must realize that you cannot shake off a concussion and then go back out and play the game. A concussion is a brain injury." Panels of local medical experts and concussion survivors will present a comprehensive look at concussions, how to prevent them, how to evaluate an athlete’s condition when a concussion occurs and guidelines for return to play. Among the speakers will be Dr. Brian Hunt, a leading neurosurgeon in North Vancouver who is also a volunteer ski patroller for Whistler/Blackcomb. As well, local occupational therapist Bruce Mohr will make a presentation. Canadian Alpine Ski Team downhiller Cary Mullen will speak about the concussion he sustained in December, 1997 which caused him to miss all of last season. Rob Boyd and Ross Rebagliati are scheduled to sit in as question and answer panellists, but their appearances will not be confirmed until the day of the forum. The BC Brain Injury Association has been in existence since 1982. The association started conducting forums last October, when it hosted the first Pacific Coast Brain Injury Conference. Based on the phenomenal attendance the association decided to host a second conference this year. The association has dealt with 6,000 brain injuries this year in B.C. The last forum for this year will be held on Monday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Myrtle Philip Community School. Admission is free.