Dave Irwin is an accomplished skier who raced in the Olympic Games in 1976 at Innsbruck and in 1980 at Lake Placid. Just before he and his team of ‘Crazy Canucks’ became famous for their daredevil recklessness, Irwin had already endured a concussion, a Montreal Gazettearticle reported. He suffered another concussion – now more widely understood as a brain injury – just before skiing at the 1980 Olympic Games.
Irwin feels it was a mistake for the Olympic authorities to have let him race in both Olympic Games, considering the seriousness of his concussions and the heavy risk of enduring another more serious brain injury. He told the Gazette, ‘It was amazing they let me race. They didn’t have a clue about brain injuries back then and barely had a name for it.’
Multiple concussions can have intensified long-term effects, even if the injury seems minor when it occurs. Irwin said of his second concussion, ‘It was the same kind of brain injury but a much bigger magnitude because it compounds,’ the Gazette article reported.
In 2001, Irwin suffered a traumatic brain injury from a ski crash that left him in a coma for two weeks. After he woke up, his memory would never be the same. Since enduring the traumatic brain injury, Irwin founded the Dave Irwin Foundation for Brain Injury. The foundation was designed mainly in order to help Canadians with brain injuries get around easier during their recoveries. They do this in part by helping to fund research and to educate the public about how to prevent and how to seek treatment for brain injuries.
Irwin still skies and keeps up on ski racing on TV. Although he lost parts of his memory and suffered other brain dysfunctions, ‘Irwin says he has no regrets,’ the article reported. This year, Irwin carried the Olympic torch for a portion of the traditional run. He said he was not carrying the torch as a former athlete. Instead, he was carrying it for all Canadians with brain injuries. With any luck, Irwin’s work will inspire the Olympic and other professional and amateur sports authorities to devote more attention to preventing brain injuries.
Inwood, Damien. (January 23, 2010) ‘Crazy Canuck’ carries Olympic flame for brain-injured Canadians.’ Retrieved on January 24, 2010 from the Montreal Gazette Web site:http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/2010wintergames/Crazy+Canuck+carri…