Participation in sports is an important part of the physical, mental and social development of our youth. While intended to promote health, sports carry an inherent risk of injury.
There is growing evidence that the short-term and long-term health risks associated with brain trauma in sports are more serious than previously known. While concussions have been the main focus of the medical community, the media, and the sports world, it appears that they are only part of the problem. A growing number of studies show the risk of short- and long-term brain damage, and neurodegenerative disease may be more closely related to an athlete’s cumulative brain trauma throughout his life.
This brain trauma includes both concussions and sub-concussion impacts, which are rapid head movements that do not cause any symptoms of concussion.
Studies are now finding that some athletes who have received subconcussive shocks, but who have never shown any concussion symptoms, still have abnormal findings on certain tests of brain structure and function. It is not yet clear if these results were caused by too many impacts in a day, a season, a year and even in a lifetime, but one thing is clear: blows to the head are dangerous and more needs to be done to protect the athletes. .
WHO IS AT RISK OF CONCUSSIONS? Concussions are a problem at all levels in many sports. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that among high school athletes, men’s ice hockey accounts for the second highest rate of concussions, only after soccer. The prevalence of concussions in youth hockey is strikingly similar to estimates of concussions in the NHL (23 per 1000 hours of player play).
One factor found in a video analysis of the bantamweight players is that the characteristics of ice skating helped explain why certain players suffer concussions. These players tended to skate with their heads down facing the puck, placing themselves in the “danger zone”, which is between 8 and 16 feet from the boards, and did not position their body optimally to receive a control. Therefore, when it was marked, these players were thrown more frequently to the boards; and collisions happened too often when they had their heads down. Many coaches are working in practice to reduce this style of play; equipment manufacturers are finding ways to increase protection and rinks are installing safety devices in the ice; But this type of injury happens to even the best and most experienced players.
The concussion problem reaches all the way to the National Hockey League. The NHL faces multiple lawsuits from former players who allege it improperly handled concussions and other brain injuries and did not do enough to protect them from the long-term dangers of concussions. The lawsuits are similar to the class action lawsuit against the NFL, which reached a substantial settlement. This just goes to show that training and education should be implemented at all levels of hockey.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of concussions and make sure your coaches and trainers follow the same and have protocols in place if such an injury occurs.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS / SYMPTOMS OF A CONCUSSION OBSERVED BY COACHING STAFF?
– Loses consciousness (even briefly)
– Appears dazed or dazed or moves unstable
– You are confused about the assignment or position.
– Forget the instructions
– Not sure of game, marker, opponent
– Shows changes in mood, behavior or personality.
– I can’t remember events
– Answer questions slowly
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS / SYMPTOMS OF A CONCUSSION REPORTED BY AN ATHLETE?
– Headache or pressure in the head.
– nausea or vomiting
– Balance problems or dizziness.
– Double or blurred vision
– Sensitivity to light or noise
WHAT TO DO IF THERE ARE SIGNS OF CONCUSSION?
– Remove the athlete from the game.
– Make sure the athlete is evaluated by an appropriate healthcare professional. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.
– Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the known or possible concussion.
– Allow the athlete to return to play only with the permission of a health professional.
WHEN IS IT SAFE TO PLAY AGAIN? All athletes who experience a concussion, no matter how minor, should undergo an evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider such as Michigan Sports & Center before returning to play. In some cases, authorization from your primary care physician may not be sufficient. There are many factors that determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to play. We have very specific protocols that measure the responses of an athlete at different levels of rest and activity; and in some cases other therapy may be necessary. Until they are completely free of all symptoms and remain symptom free during and after physical tests, it will not be safe to play again. If you are unsure, call us to schedule a consultation. Our goal is to get athletes back into the game as soon as possible, only when there is no risk of further injury. I also encourage you to speak with your coaches and coaches to make sure they are up to date with the latest protocols to keep athletes safe.