Max Paccioretty Foundation

Ask any Montrealer about Max Pacioretty, immediately they will recall the evening they watched in horror the terrible, savage hit by Zedno Charra, sending Max Pacioretty contacting with head and neck into the vertical stanchion, between both players Bell Center benches. Max Pacioretty hit so hard, his cervical vertebra bone fractured. My personal research opinion is that the massive rotation of his body helped counteract his inner brain rotation effects. Correct, he was unconscious from the surging CSF pressure wave from such abrupt concussive contact, since the force was centered especially around his neck anatomy. The fact that no displacement of his spinal cord happened is a real miracle wonder, just think of Superman actor Christopher Reeves horse thrown falling injury. So please read on to the way Max Pacioretty has offered to say thank you to the Montreal General Hospital community that took such excellent care of him during his hospital stay plus during his convalescence. Pacioretty  is offering a unique gesture to stimulate all Montrealers to make progress in our understanding toward better diagnosing cerebral concussions toward developing a real treatment option. Hopefully that is our contribution…..

Max Pacioretty’s terrible hit, amazing recovery, assist to Montreal General Hospital


MONTREAL – Theresa Pacioretty is terribly proud of her famous grandson. Almost as much for the young man’s skill on a hockey rink as for his sense of community, for seizing an opportunity to help people he’ll never know.

Long ago, Theresa Savoie began nursing at Montreal General Hospital. Last March, at home in San Francisco, she was among the great many horrified to learn that her grandson, Max, was being transported by ambulance to the facility with what would prove to be a fractured neck and a severe concussion.

Within a few months, the hospital is expected to make a major announcement about its ambitious drive to purchase a functional magnetic resonance imaging unit, a cutting-edge machine that will play a groundbreaking role in the research and treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

The face of the campaign will be the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty, who again is a dominant force with his team because of the care he received at the General upon arrival in their triage seven months ago.

“It’s a very small world,” Pacioretty said of his grandmother’s connection with the hospital. “She wants to get involved with the foundation, and she’s so happy for me.”

Canadiens physician and chief surgeon David Mulder marvels at the community involvement not just of Pacioretty, but his entire family.

“Max is very engaged in a general way of wanting to do something for the hospital,” Mulder said. “So are his parents and his new wife. He just told me a heartwarming story about his grandmother’s work at the General.

“Because of Max’s injury, everybody’s taken this on as a way to contribute to society. I’m very impressed by his maturity and I can’t tell you how supportive his mom and dad have been, how grateful they’ve been to the hospital.”

Mulder, for more than 35 years a surgeon, administrator, policy-shaper and even a pioneer at the General, was at Pacioretty’s side on Bell Centre ice on March 8 as the player lay unconscious, having been checked head-first at high speed into a stanchion between the players benches.

“Any type of concussion where there’s a loss of consciousness is an additional threat,” said Mulder, a member of the Canadiens medical family since 1963. “That’s what we were faced with. Laying face-down is a hard position in which to resuscitate or recover anybody, to get control of the airway.”

It was Mulder who that night would meet Pacioretty’s parents, Ray and Anette, in a hospital waiting room to brief them on their son’s condition.

And Mulder is among those wonderfully surprised by Pacioretty’s remarkable recovery, from “one of the most severe concussions we’ve seen.”

“That’s the bottom line,” Mulder said. “ We don’t understand concussions. We don’t have a good way to measure them. There’s so much scientific work to be done.”

And not merely in high-performance sport. The vast majority of head-trauma cases arriving at the General involve victims of car accidents, seniors who have taken a bad spill and children injured at home or on the playing field.

“Post-concussion syndrome and its long-term implication is profound,” Mulder said. “There’s a high level of effort being expended in the scientific world on trying to resolve the concussion issue much more broadly than in just sports.”

There’s work needed, for instance, in the lives of service personnel returning from the front lines of combat zones like Afghanistan, soldiers exposed to roadside bombs and concussive artillery fire.

As Pacioretty recovered, it became clear to him that he wanted to give something back to the facility for the care he received. He has quietly created the Max Pacioretty Foundation, in association with the MGH Foundation, through which he soon will begin flying the fundraising flag to get the hospital its MRI machine.

“I haven’t been too involved with it yet because of the start of the season,” Pacioretty said. “But as we get it going, I’ll be doing a lot of work on it.”

The global budget for the MRI unit might be in the vicinity of $8 million, but its impact on the population, present and future, will be priceless.

There exists an inspiring template for Pacioretty to follow. Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, who successfully fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a decade ago, similarly spearheaded a campaign to get the General a sophisticated PET/CT scanning unit for the treatment of cancer.

“To me, Max is doing for concussions what Saku did for lymphoma,” Mulder said. “If it wasn’t for Saku engaging the community, we never would have gotten the scanner. It helped not only him, but the entire Quebec community.

“He almost provoked government and other agencies into funding this. Now, it’s essential equipment for all kinds of cancer.”

The Montreal General Hospital/McGill University Health Centre’s Brain Trauma Injury Project is headed by Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos. Already in place is a renowned brain-trauma specialist from Boston – a little ironic, given Pacioretty’s hockey history.

“A lot of pieces of the puzzle have yet to fall into place,” Mulder said of various grant applications. “But there’s no question we’ll have a big announcement coming. It’s an exciting concept, and we’re very happy that Max will be a big part of it.”

For Pacioretty, and you’ll pardon the expression, his involvement is a no-brainer.

“It’s definitely touched me, to go through the experience I did and have so many support me. I’m really excited to put my name on this.

“And the people at the General worked with Saku on his foundation,” he said, his grin spreading. “How can you say no?”

If I were to reach out to Max Pacioretty in terms of a letter of support for his foundation here’s what I would write:

Dear Mr Pacioretty,

We all saw the horrendous injury you suffered. But now you are the face for concussive injury. We don’t see the faces of all the others who suffer huge concussions like in automobile accidents or elders loosing their balance. Even at home slipping on some soap in the bath can have life changing consequences. All those other faces are now represented by you. As if they are all passengers in a special aircraft now flown by you they have become your precious cargo. You are their flying Captain. They expect to get back to their lives, those are their hopes. May you bring them back safely!

I hope in my own small way that I can help all those unknown faces too. The very best I can do is proceed with our own projects toward better understanding of minor traumatic brain injury-the medical term for concussion.

People always seem to do better when they are on a serious project. Different energies are applied to the problem in ways unforeseen. It is in this atmosphere  that a breakthrough can happen. For you to give back to the Montreal General Hospital shows enormous insight on your part that healthcare involves lots of skilled people working together selflessly for the best patient care.

I like you spent many nights alone in my Royal Victoria Hospital bed lying awake at night, asking myself, ‘What if I hadn’t made it?’ these are soul searching searing thoughts that can shake you to your very core. How do I give back to essentially say despite the trauma, there will be a better way? This is the overlap of our experiences. It is rising to a hidden challenge, to take on something monumental like Kennedy’s mission to the Moon. It is a outcome changer, once started only the specific goal is the reality to be.

A concentration of research people coming to regard brain injury as a Montreal solution will become a beacon of light on your life’s work. Creating the Max Pacioretty Foundation is such a mature means of resolving those long nights in your hospital bed, all alone, replacing the thoughts of terror, the doubt with a real sustainable hope toward breaking open new discoveries. Without your face becoming the face of concussion all those other anonymous concussion faces have no hope. May you pilot your foundation with skill toward success. Nothing else will compare, except maybe a Stanley Cup. But that is another dream.

Best regards,

Michael McHugh

Pacioretty creates foundation in effort to give back

Monday, 11.07.2011 / 8:37 PM / News

By Arpon Basu – Correspondent

BROSSARD, Que.Max Pacioretty has signed thousands of autographs over the course of his relatively short NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, but there is one request in particular he can’t wait to grant, and he hopes it comes very soon.

Because when that autograph request comes from the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) to sign his name on its brand new Functional MRI machine, it will mean the Max Pacioretty Foundation launched Monday will have accomplished its goal of providing a revolutionary brain trauma assessment and treatment tool for the benefit of his adopted community.

When Pacioretty was knocked out last March after his head was driven into a stanchion at full speed during a game against the Boston Bruins, he was treated at the MGH. And it was during his convalescence from that severe concussion and cervical neck fracture that Pacioretty decided he must do something to help other people who found themselves in the same predicament.

“A lot of that time spent in my bed wondering if I would ever play again made me realize what’s important in life,” Pacioretty said Monday after a press conference at the Canadiens suburban practice facility. “It’s rewarding to score a goal or have a great game, but even more so to help someone’s life. That’s why I want to be so hands-on with this.”

Max Pacioretty

The MGH has some recent experience treating Canadiens whose lives hang in the balance. Former captain and current Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu had his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatments there in 2001, except for the ones that called for him to use a PET scan.

For those, Koivu needed to drive two hours away to Sherbrooke, Que., because that was the closest one to Montreal.  Once Koivu recovered, he started the foundation that eventually led to the purchase of a PET Scan for the MGH.

The machine itself bears Koivu’s autograph, and he has said its purchase is one of his proudest achievements.

Pacioretty hopes to sign his own name on a brand new Functional MRI some day in the not too distant future.

“It’s definitely going to be a great feeling when it does happen,” Pacioretty said. “I know from playing with Saku, he was so proud of what he had accomplished, not just with hockey but with his foundation. I hope to have that feeling one day too.”

The Functional MRI machine remains in development, but once completed will open a new window into the mysteries of the brain, Canadiens head physician Dr. David Mulder said.

It is essentially an intensified MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine built specifically for the brain, as opposed to most machines which are designed to be more versatile.

Mulder said the improved imaging technology will allow doctors to better assess a concussion, better determine treatment, make more informed decisions on when a patient is fully recovered and also conduct research on the long-term effects of brain injuries.

“If we have an X-Ray, I can see a fracture. If there’s an injury to the brain, I have nothing right now,” Dr. Mulder said. “This is the kind of research that will allow us to progress from soft data to hard, concrete treatment.”

Dr. Reza Farivar is an expert in biomedical imaging working with the Traumatic Brain Injury Project at the MGH.

“A lot of that time spent in my bed wondering if I would ever play again made me realize what’s important in life.  It’s rewarding to score a goal or have a great game, but even more so to help someone’s life.”Max Pacioretty

He explained that the number of image detectors on this breakthrough machine will be four times higher — and the image resolution eight times higher – than that of any other machine that exists today. That will, in theory, allow doctors to pinpoint very small areas of the brain that have been damaged and see with great detail whether or not certain treatments are working – and they should also have access to those images quicker than ever before.

“Each detector can be smaller, so they tend to be more sensitive, and when you have more of them they can image the whole object faster,” Dr. Farivar said. “So it will increase the speed and sensitivity. This combination is going to be extremely unique here.”

The biggest impact, Dr. Farivar explained, will be the ability to examine the mild trauma that does not appear on the imaging technology available today.

“The main challenge is that you want to treat a disease, but you can’t see it. So before you can treat it, you need to figure out what you need to look for,” he said. “If a player or a concussed patient, an infant, has a lesion (on the brain) we can actually visualize, then if we try a drug we can actually see if they’re responding to the drug.”

Enhancing MRI technology does not come cheap.

The machine itself will come in at around $3.5 million once completed, in addition to the costs of establishing the brain trauma center at MGH, a facility to be headed by Dr. Vassili Papadopoulos and is expected to attract some of the top research minds in the world.

That’s where Pacioretty will come in, using not only his individual investment but his high public profile within a Quebec community so shaken by his frightening injury.

“Our players are obviously very popular in our province, so when one of our players has an opportunity to support the community, to be present and to improve the community, we support him 100 percent,” said Canadiens president and managing partner Geoff Molson. “It was Max who came to see us about supporting him in this, and there was no question we would. We hope others will follow his lead.”

Pacioretty said it was his injury that triggered his interest in getting involved in this project, but it is the revolutionary aspect of the technology that has him most excited now.

“Just sitting in on the meetings with the doctors, they’ve been communicating about what this machine will do and how important it is,” he said. “To see such respected doctors get so excited over this technology really shows how important it’s going to be.”

Pacioretty was fortunate to enjoy a relatively quick recovery — one that he said never involved severe symptoms. But Dr. Mulder says the player’s speedy recovery only underscores the ignorance that still exists with such injuries, and that those with more complicated symptoms and longer recovery periods will be those that benefit most.

“For me it’s a miracle,” Dr. Mulder said of Pacioretty’s return. “But that points out that I don’t understand the problem as well as I should. If there were some secret from Max or from our treatment of Max that would allow everybody to recover like this, that’s what we’re all searching for.”

About cerebrovortex

Montreal Grandmother, Agnes Kent was saved by Raul Wallenberg from certain death, when he provided papers for her and her Mom to escape away from the Nazis. Today when asked what that escape meant, she replied,"Remind people, that while statesmen and whole countries remained silent and did nothing, a single individual chose to act, with ramifications that proved enormous. Similar choices confront us today. Write that simple truth she said, it can never be repeated often enough because the world keeps forgetting it."
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