Hockey season has officially started with seeding round games, so there is no better time to talk about one of the issues most frequently publicized in the news and on the minds of parents - concussions. Most of the attention has been focused on football, but concussions can and do happen in any sport. When it comes to hockey it’s obvious that the collision aspect of the sport and the playing area, which includes very hard surfaces (ice and boards), increases the possibility of a head injury.
One thing that is important to understand is that a concussion can also occur from the rapid movement of the head where the brain bounces back and forth inside the skull. A hit or bump from behind can cause a whiplash motion of the neck and result in a concussion. There does NOT have to be head or helmet contact for a concussion to occur. Additionally, remember a helmet does not prevent a concussion; it may only reduce the severity of the injury. While some studies have shown wearing a custom mouthguard prevents concussions, there are also many studies disproving the theory.
At the bottom of this message I have included some resources for you to better understand concussion signs and symptoms, as well as the most common course of treatment for those who have sustained a concussion. One thing that is clear from all of the research is if a player has ANY of the signs and symptoms of a concussion, they should be removed from play immediately.
For families with athletes over 12, please consider the Step aHead program. It is a collaborative initiative between the Blackhawks, AHAI and NorthShore University Health System that provides baseline concussion and follow-up treatment testing. The latest research supports the use of baseline testing to better diagnose the extent of a head injury and provide a clearer picture on when it is appropriate to return to play. To register for the Step aHead program, please click here.
Our coaches have received training on the signs and symptoms of concussion and will follow our protocol. However, sometimes symptoms are subtle and you as the parent know your child best, so please be sure to refer to the resources if you feel something is not right. Be sure to seek out your child's physicians or one of the specialty clinics that work with the Step aHead program in Illinois for further assistance.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at anytime.
Lets have a SAFE and successful season!
Jim Allivato, LAT, ATC