When Keith Primeau said in April that after his death, his brain would be donated for concussion and brain-injury research, the former Flyer created plenty of awareness of the issue.
His work didn't end with that announcement.
Primeau, the coach of Team Comcast's PeeWee hockey teams (12- and 11-year-olds), secured a grant last month from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to provide baseline concussion testing for his teams.
Primeau said he believes this is the first minor hockey program in the country to have baseline testing for players.
"For me, that is beyond exciting," Primeau said.
Primeau was 34 when he retired from the Flyers after the 2005-06 season because of four concussions in a span of three seasons. He may have suffered even more before that, but Primeau isn't sure.
Now, along with donating his brain, Primeau is tackling the underlying problem of concussions in youth sports: education and treatment.
"High school sports are only one small token of it," said Bradley Smith, a sports medicine physician at Orthopaedic Specialists in Bryn Mawr. "There's so many community leagues, rec leagues, club teams where they don't have a certified athletic trainer to recognize a concussion and pull them out."
Primeau said nothing new about the severity of concussions in sports shocks him anymore. But he doesn't want people who feel overloaded by studies to just ignore the problem.
"We want it to be front and center," Primeau said. "We don't want it to just be accepted as an athletic hazard or just part of youth or professional sports and therefore passed over. It's more severe than that."
Primeau, who remains involved in programs at all levels of hockey, said he routinely experiences symptoms of post-concussion syndrome (headaches, memory loss).
"I don't get a whole lot of down time," he said. "Because of that, it puts a strain on me if I don't recognize the symptoms and take a step back. But in general, I'm much better than I was a couple of years ago, especially on a consistency basis."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.