Concussions in Hockey

Topics: Concussion, Ice hockey, National Hockey League Pages: 7 (3217 words) Published: November 11, 2011
Kyle Johnson

Concussions In Hockey

The sport of hockey is an intense test of power and will, and as a result of the injuries in sport are common realities that players and coaches are faced with. Among these injuries are concussions, arguably the worst injury of all. A significant blow to the head that causes the brain to shake in the skull and sometime even swell causes a concussion. These serious and sometimes life threatening injuries have always been a part of hockey, and up until a few years ago, little was being done to combat the cause. Although great strides have been made to help athletes recover from a concussion, the question arises, why are hockey players so susceptible to these terrible head injuries in the first place? From that question we can categorize sub questions that will help us determine whether or not this rapidly increasing injury can be stopped, or at least reduced in all levels of hockey. Speed, strength, as well as player height and weight differentials are often blamed for the recent outburst of concussions in hockey. These are variables that cannot be interfered with in order to protect the core values of being a hockey player. Therefore, we must find a way to eliminate the injury without ruining the integrity of the sport. Rules such as no-touch icing, elimination of head shots, hits from behind and blindside hits are just some of the ways the NHL has decided to help battle concussions. These rules have not all been approved as of yet, but specialists anticipate a drop in concussions once they have been approved and integrated into the game; however, many remain skeptical.  Player equipment is another variable that could be improved in order to reduce the amount of concussions in sport. Equipment changes such as mandatory full-face shields and elimination of plastic or hard material covering shoulder and elbow pads are other solutions that may possibly reduce the risk of concussions. In order to combat a concussion, we first have to understand what a concussion is and how it affects players. We must also familiarize ourselves with what the NHL is doing properly in the fight against concussions and what they can do better to initiate a decrease in the amount suffered every year. The term concussion describes an injury to the brain resulting from an impact to the head. By definition, a concussion is not always a life-threatening injury, but it can cause both short-term and long-term problems. A concussion results from a closed-head type of injury and does not include injuries in which there is bleeding under the skull or into the brain. A mild concussion may involve no loss of consciousness (feeling "dazed") or a very brief loss of consciousness (being "knocked out"). A severe concussion may involve prolonged loss of consciousness with a delayed return to normal. In 2010, the American Academy of Neurology called for any athlete suspected of having a concussion to be removed from play until a physician evaluates the athlete. Upon return they have implemented a unique and universal 4-step plan: 1. Remove the athlete from play.

2. Ensure that a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion evaluates the athlete. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. 3. Inform the athlete's guardians or spouse about the possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussion. 4. Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says they are symptom-free and it's OK to return to play. (American Academy of Neurology, 2011) A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first - usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks) - can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death. (AAN, 2011) A concussion is...
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