Facts and Prevention
Concussion Prevention Resource Centre
Because of the contact nature of the game and the speed with which it is played, the brain is vulnerable to injury. Trauma may occur through direct contact to the head or face or indirectly through a whiplash effect. Injuries to the brain are characterized by an altered state of mind. It is the altered state of mind that is the key thing to look for with any head injury.
NOTE: Children are more sensitive to the effects of a concussion and will need to have a longer period of rest prior to returning to activity and the sport.
A concussion is a common injury, but since they cannot be detected on x-rays or CT scans, they have been difficult to fully investigate and understand. Fortunately, there have been many important advances in our knowledge of concussions, including how to identify, manage and recover from a concussion. Although concussions are often referred to as ‘mild traumatic brain injuries’ and often resolve uneventfully, ALL concussions have the potential for serious and long-lasting symptoms and so must be treated carefully and in consultation with a physician.
Click here to link to the Coaching Association of Canada and test your knowledge around concussions.
What Causes a Concussion?
Concussions are brain injuries caused by the brain moving inside of the skull. The movement causes damage that changes how brain cells function, leading to symptoms that can be physical (headaches, dizziness), cognitive (problems remembering or concentrating), or emotional (feeling depressed). A concussion can result from any impact to the head, face or neck or a blow to the body which causes a sudden jolting of the head.
Do Hockey Helmets Prevent Concussions?
Is there such a thing as a concussion helmet? The answer is a resounding NO! Helmets are important and very effective against localized head injuries such as skull fractures but they have limited effectiveness against concussions.
Suffice it to say that regardless of what you hear or read, concussion helmets do not yet exist. Reducing the concussion risk will require behavioural adjustments on many fronts.
Do Mouthguards Prevent Concussions?
Although the facemask does prevent dental injuries, it is still recommended that all players who play hockey wear an internal mouthguard. Dental injuries still occur despite the use of a facemask. Properly fitted mouthguards have been shown to significantly reduce dental and oral injuries in hockey. However, their role in preventing or reducing the severity of concussions has not been scientifically proven.
How Can a Concussion Be Prevented?
Never Check To The Head –
Hockey Canada adopted a new penalty for the 2002-03 season that is enforced at all levels of play within hockey in Canada. The penalty is checking to the head, and it was hoped that the enforcement of this rule would address and lead to the reduction of concussions in hockey at all levels of play within Hockey Canada.
Never Hit From Behind –
Beginning with the 1985-86 season, Hockey Canada introduced a rule to eliminate checking from behind. With the implementation of rules, prevention and awareness Hockey Canada will continue to decrease the number of concussions in the game. But it takes more than this; it takes cooperation from all involved including parents to continue to enforce respect and safety in the game.
Communicate With Your Son or Daughter
As a parent, one of the most important steps is to communicate with your son or daughter and explain to them why certain infractions are being emphasized. If you as a parent show frustration when a penalty is called so will your child. Be positive and avoid reacting negatively when a penalty is called.
Respect The Officials
As a parent you are encouraged to visit the Hockey Canada website to gain an understanding of the standard of play and rules emphasis initiative.
Be patient with the officials as they refine their game management techniques in an effort to make the game safer and more exciting for the players. Also take the opportunity to read the Hockey Canada rule book and learn about the different rules of the game.
Next time you are at the rink, try watching the game from the perspective of the officials.
Work With Your Child’s Coach
As a parent, you are an important component of the team’s structure. Work with your child’s coach to support the rule emphasis and work with your coaches to teach the players what is expected of them. A major key is to encourage respect for the officials, their teammates and other players around them.