Concussions are brain injuries caused by excessive, rapid movement of the brain inside the skull. This 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 a blow to the head or body in any number of activities including receiving a check in hockey, falling from a jungle gym, being in a motor vehicle collision, or slipping on an icy sidewalk.
A concussion is a common injury, but since they cannot be seen 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 head 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.
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.
The Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app is a great tool for parents, coaches, trainers, players, administrators and anyone interested in learning about the prevention, recognition and response to concussion injury, including responsible return-to-play protocol.
The Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app for kids is a great tool for parents to teach young players how to prevent concussions through respect and playing by the rules. The app explains important concussion information in an easy-to-follow manner for young players and contains an interactive game around respect starring Puckster, the official mascot of Hockey Canada.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO PARENTS – As we are all aware any activity has a certain amount of risk attached to it – but if the sport is played the way it is meant to be played – with respect and by the rules the health benefits will far outweigh the risks.
To download the Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app, click here.
Concussion Downloads and Links