As the saying goes, “we’ve come a long way baby.”
Nothing could be more true when it comes to taking concussions seriously, not only in pro sports but at the junior level as well.
Concussions are a frequent concern for those playing sports, from children and teenagers to professional athletes.
Repeated concussions are a known cause of various neurological disorders. Because concussions cannot be seen on X-rays or CT scans, attempts to prevent concussions have been difficult.
An awareness of the risks of concussions in sports began to grow in the 1990’s in both the medical and the professional sports communities.
Rob Brown played professional hockey for 16 years, in the NHL, American Hockey League and now defunct International Hockey League.
He played his junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. Even then concussions weren’t regarded as much to worry about it.
That was then, this is now.
“Back when we when played, you got your bell rung and that was it. You didn’t really consider it a concussion. You’d black out, get back to the bench, there’d be some smelling salts and you’re back out on the ice. So I’m guessing I’ve probably had between eight and a dozen.”
NHL Concussion “spotters”
At every NHL game now there are several so-called “spotters” in the stands watching for players who show any signs of concussions or hits that can contribute to concussions.
At the Junior level, it’s taken just as seriously.
Nick Murray is athletic therapist for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He says there are a lot of things that have to happen to ensure players are taken care of if a concussion is suspected.
“If it’s deemed a concussion then a league’s protocol goes into effect.The league has a neuropsychologist that actually lives in Michigan and he does all the concussion work for the entire Canadian hockey league. So he is required to be notified within 24-48 hours once an injury is sustained. And then every club’s physician for a specific player needs to be informed as well.”
Murray says first and foremost it’s about the safety of the player.