I have had a few questions about concussions lately so I thought I would share a few thoughts. I am not a concussion expert by any means, so if you suspect you, your child or one of your players has sustained a concussion, they should immediately seek medical attention.
Concussions can manifest themselves very differently in different athletes, so you cannot assume that since they are sitting quietly and look normal that they are fine. I actually remember one of our players at Western University when I was the trainer take a body check on the ice. I didn’t think anything of it, she got up, stayed with the play, no problem.
When she was on the bench between shifts I noticed she was acting a little odd. So I went over to ask her how she was doing and if I had not known better, I would have sworn she was drunk. She was over the top with her exuberance and confusion. It was shocking how the hit seemed insignificant but obviously had a huge impact on her brain.
So here is a quick True/False test for your concussion knowledge:
True or False: Wearing a mouth guard will prevent concussion.
FALSE: There is no mouth guard or helmet that has been proven to prevent concussion. It is believed that a mouth guard can reduce the risk of concussion, but there is no piece of equipment that will prevent concussion.
True or False: If you don’t get hit in the head, you cannot get a concussion.
FALSE: Any type of blow can cause the brain to slosh around within the skull and in fact impact the inside of the skull causing trauma and concussion. So even if you get run over, but do not receive a direct blow to the head you could still be concussed.
True or False: If you just get your ‘bell rung’ that is not a concussion. You can keep playing.
FALSE: If you have any symptoms of a concussion, even if they are very short-lived, you have sustained enough of an injury to your brain to cause a change in your neural cognitive level. If you feel fuzzy, dizzy, nauseous or have any other symptoms of a concussion you should not continue to play and you should be evaluated by an experienced medical professional.
True or False: Some concussion symptoms might return when you exert yourself in training or practice, but as long as they go away when you stop and you are symptom free at rest, you are okay to play.
FALSE: Players must be symptom free at rest before they begin to exert themselves; that is true. But if any of the player’s symptoms return upon exertion, they should not return to play.
Concussions are scary injuries, even if it is not a ‘severe’ concussion, it is still a serious injury, so I think some players, coaches and parents will things to get better and be fine. As a result they inadvertently ignore some of the warning signs.
Sustaining another concussion before the brain has completely healed from the previous injury can multiply the effects of the concussion and the recovery time; so if there is any doubt, stay out.
So, I hope you learned a couple of things you didn’t know about concussion. As I said, I am not the expert in this area – the real experts are your local sport medicine doctors. So if you find your self sustaining a concussion, then find an experienced doctor to oversee your recovery, they are your best ally.
Maria Mountain is the strength and conditioning coach to Olympic, World and Stanley Cup Champions. She specializes in off-ice training for hockey goalies. Visit www.GoalieTrainingPro.com to learn more or click here for your free copy of the Ultimate Guide to Durable and Flexible Hips for Goalies