Jan 25, 2019
Safety in Ice Hockey

A number of campaigns have focused on the prevalence of head and neck injuries in football. The Alaska Athletic Trainers’ Association (AATA) recently took a different approach by highlighting the importance of safety in another hard-hitting sport—ice hockey.

For the second consecutive year, the AATA sponsored the “Safety in Hockey Campaign,” which took place during the week of January 6 to the 12. Its yearly goals for the campaign include educating people in Alaska “on the importance of safety” in the sport and “what measures those individuals can do to achieve the highest level of safety within their programs,” according to a press release from the AATA

The AATA also stated the secondary goal of this week-long movement, which “is to promote the athletic training profession and its importance to safety in all sports, with the focus on hockey.” Michael Dhesse, ATC, Public Relations Chairman for the AATA and Assistant Athletic Trainer the University of Alaska Anchorage ice hockey team, told KTUU-TV that the idea stemmed from a “Safety in Football” campaign debuted by the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association in 2014.

“It started with an educational standpoint of what we do, because there’s not very many of us here in the state of Alaska,” said Dheese.

To join the campaign, hockey programs must be under the care of a certified athletic trainer. This year, 15 schools participated throughout the state in the week’s initiatives, which included person-to-person communication, handouts to hang up in locker rooms for educational purposes, and the use of #AATASafetyinHockey on social media. In addition, participating hockey programs donned a sticker on the back of each player’s helmet that exemplified “the cumulative efforts of these schools, programs and the Alaska Trainers’ Association towards improving the overall safety of all sports in Alaska,” according to the AATA release.

“This campaign just helps us bring awareness to the big issues in the sport of hockey, what you can do to prevent them, and what an athletic trainer can also do to help make that easier for you as a parent and a coach,” Mary Perez, MS, ATC, who works for Orthopedic Physicians Alaska, told KTUU-TV. “As a result of the campaign, we would really like to see parents, coaches, and athletes really take ownership of the sport that they’re playing, understand what the risks are, and what they can do to prevent those.”

Brett Haugen, Head Boys’ Hockey Coach at East Anchorage High School, agrees.

“I think we all want to see less injuries occur, definitely less concussions,” Haugen told KTUU-TV. “We want everybody to stay healthy throughout the season if possible. That’s the best possible outcome, and that’s why we’re starting this now. We want to be on the forefront of it.”

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