By AL ARABIYA WITH AFP
United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Wednesday said U.N. observers monitoring the violence in Syria were evacuated from a tense town a day after a blast hit their convoy.
Syrian troops were accused by activists of another massacre when they opened fire on a funeral procession and reportedly killed 20 people on Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhun, in the northwestern province of Idlib.
During Tuesday’s funeral, a convoy of U.N. observers was struck by a homemade bomb, damaging three vehicles but causing no casualties.
Because of blast damage to their car, six members of the team were forced to spend the night with activists in Khan Sheikhun, which came under heavy regime shelling, an activist said.
Annan’s office said the U.N. mission had picked up the six military observers and that they were back at their team site in the central city of Hama.
It was the second roadside bombing involving the military observers’ vehicles in less than a week, after six Syrian soldiers escorting a convoy were wounded in a May 9 bombing in Daraa.
At least 32 people have also been killed by Syrian forces across the country on Wednesday, activists said, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists at the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) and the Syrian Media Center.
The United Nations, which accuses both sides of violating an April 12 ceasefire, reaffirmed its condemnation of any violence against the monitors.
“This mission is there to help the people of Syria, to help ensure that the six-point plan is implemented,” spokesman Martin Nesirky said, referring to Annan’s peace plan.
Jeannine Donato’s life changed when she got a call two years ago that her youngest son Nolan was being rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Boston after being hit into the boards during a hockey game.
Donato is no stranger to head injuries or hockey. She worked as a nurse in the head trauma unit at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and she is the wife of Ted Donato, a 13-year NHL veteran who played for the Boston Bruins and now coaches the Harvard University men’s hockey team.
Donato’s son Nolan was diagnosed with a concussion and doctors asked if he had ever taken a baseline concussion test – a computerized exam that measures cognitive abilities such as recall, reaction time and pattern recognition.
Donato had never heard of it until that day but made it her mission to make the test available to athletes of all ages. So she founded the business, A Head of the Game.
Donato, now the Abington public health nurse and a board member at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, is offering the test on Friday at the Abington senior center from 4 to 8 p.m. to any student athletes ages 10 and older.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull.
The test to be given on Friday measures visual and verbal memory and reaction times. It is taken before the athlete’s season begins, and then, if a concussion is sustained, the test is retaken and used to measure the severity of the injury, the part of the brain affected and the progress of recovery.
“If kids don’t have the baseline test, it’s a guessing game for when they’re ready to go back (after a concussion),” said Donato.
“Without baseline testing, 20 to 30 percent of athletes will report being symptom-free without being back to normal,” said Bill Meehan, director of the sports concussion clinic and director of research for the brain injury center at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
The risks of resuming sports play are serious, said Meehan. One of the most dangerous is “second impact” syndrome, which is caused when the brain is not fully healed from a concussion, is re-injured and can result in traumatic brain swelling.
“It is hard to tell when someone’s recovered,” said Meehan. “It takes longer to recover if someone continues to sustain injuries.”
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association does not require baseline concussion testing but has increased concussion awareness over the last few years as head injuries continue to become more of a concern for student athletes and their parents.
A new state law requires all athletes, coaches, school nurses and parents to take a concussion education online test, requires schools to keep a record of all concussions and for each athlete to be cleared by a medical professional before returning to play after a concussion.
Abington’s youth sports teams, including the Abington Lacrosse League and Abington Youth Football, have been notified of the testing this week and league presidents say they have encouraged athletes to attend.
Most athletes who sustain one or two concussions will recover completely if the injury is treated correctly, said Dr. Meehan.
Erin Shannon may be reached at email@example.com.
At least 15 civilians were “summarily executed” by regime forces in a neighborhood of the central Syrian city of Homs overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
“After regime forces raided the neighborhood of Shammas, 15 civilians were found summarily executed,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based watchdog told AFP, qualifying the killings a “massacre.”
He said a Muslim cleric who had six children was among those killed.
As many as sixteen people have also been killed by Syrian forces across the country , activists said, few hours after regime forces shelled central Deraa overnight, killing at least eight people, including two children, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists at the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) and the Syrian Media Center.