Jan 29, 2015
Quick Hits: Preventing Concussions in Ice Hockey

The National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) and National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) have teamed up to reduce concussions in youth, high school, and college ice hockey.

Concussions are by far the most common, and one of the most difficult to manage injuries seen in sports today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are between 1.6 million and 3.8 million brain injuries that occur in sports each year–and 63,000 occur in high school athletes alone. NAN and NATA have joined forces on a national and local grassroots campaign to educate the public, athletes, health professionals, coaches, parents, administrators, and others about concussion in sports. The overarching objective of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of identifying concussions and implementing appropriate management when they do occur.

As a centerpiece of the NAN and NATA efforts, a 12-minute educational video titled “Concussions in Hockey: Signs, Symptoms and Playing Safe,” has now been released nationally. The video, sponsored by the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association, features comments from Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars and retired NHL players Pat LaFontaine and Eric Lindros. It is available as a free online download on affiliated Web sites, including www.nanonline.org, www.nata.org, www.nhl.com, and www.nhlpa.com and also available, upon request, at a cost of $10 at www.nata.org/brochures/.

“Given the recent advancements in concussion research, education among coaches, parents, athletes, the media, and other influencers is critical,” said athletic trainer Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC, professor and chair, Department of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolinal. “The invisible nature of concussions makes it imperative that athletes and coaches properly recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions, in order to foster quicker diagnosis and medical care when needed.”

“Concussions can be serious injuries if not treated properly. Concussion symptoms can affect players in all areas of their lives including their physical, emotional and cognitive functioning,” said Ruben Echemendia, PhD, NAN past president and director of the NHL’s Neuropsychological Testing Program. “Swift and appropriate evaluation by trained sports medicine professionals is crucial before an athlete returns to play. That is why we counsel students and coaches to err on the side of caution and ‘when in doubt, sit out.'”

This educational campaign explicitly urges athletes to immediately consult with their athletic trainer, team physician or coach if they think they might have a concussion. “Even if an athlete’s symptoms appear to be very mild, if they don’t feel right, they must immediately tell somebody in charge,” Echemendia said.

For more information, NATA has published a position statement (pdf download) on concussions, which is available at www.nata.org/statements/position/concussion.pdf. NAN has also published a sports concussion white paper, which is available at http://www.nanonline.org/NAN/ResearchPublications/Educationpapers.aspx.

More information on the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) is at: www.nanonline.org.

More information on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association is at: www.nata.org.

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