CARE Concussion Centre


Hockey Helmets Rank Low in Reducing Concussion Risk

It is well documented that hockey has a high rate of concussions compared to other contact sports. According to a concussion-biomechanics-and-prevention-by-stefan-duma-62-638study at Virginia Tech in May of 2015, the hockey helmets our kids are wearing before they step onto the ice might not be as safe as the manufacturers want us to believe.

Virginia Tech’s research evaluated 37 of the most popular hockey helmets on the market and used their STAR evaluation system to rate them. The more stars a helmet earned, the lower the risk of sustaining a concussion compared to helmets who scored a lower star rating. I want to reiterate that helmets cannot prevent concussions, but a better designed helmet can help to reduce the incidence and according to the results of this study, hockey helmets need to be improved.

From this study, it was found that no hockey helmets received a 5 or 4 star rating (the highest and best score), and only one helmet was worthy of 3 stars. Six helmets received a 2 star rating, sixteen received one star and nine helmets received the lowest possible score of 0 stars. It should be noted that it was recommended that no person should use a helmet with a 0 star rating.

The STAR formula, which stands for Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk, measures the probability of brain injury from a series of different impact conditions and locations. The evaluation process included more than 2,000 impact tests performed both on an ice rink and inside a laboratory. “The hockey STAR methodology provides a scientific framework for manufacturers to optimize hockey helmet design for injury risk reduction, as well as providing consumers with a meaningful metric to assess the relative performance of hockey helmets.”

How did hockey helmets match up against football helmets, another sport with a high incidence of concussions? Well…not so good. Twenty of the 26 football helmets recently tested using the same formula received a rating of 4 or 5 stars.

This independent study, which did not receive funding from helmet manufacturers, was performed to help manufacturers make better and safer helmets. To see the complete rankings of the different helmets used in this study, visit Virginia Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics website.

This study demonstrates an urgent need to develop safer hockey helmets for our children, in order to protect them against concussive type hits. It’s time for manufacturers to develop hockey helmets that can perform better on the ice. Hopefully this study wakes them up.

Concussion Law to Pass in Canadian Youth Sports?

Rowan’s Law: Canada’s first concussion law

Rowan's Concussion LawA coroner’s inquest into the death of a young athlete from Ottawa, Rowan Stringer, may lead to new laws for sports organizations in Ontario. The law would require sports associations to have a concussion protocol in place in the event a young athlete suffers a head injury.

Rowan was only 17 years of age when she passed away after suffering multiple concussions within a week while playing high school rugby. Between May 3rd, 2013 to May 8th, 2013, Rowan played 5 rugby matches where she sustained 3 head injuries, all of which may have be classified as concussion. However, after the last head injury, she lost consciousness and eventually died 3 days later due to second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome is a rare condition that results when a second concussion occurs before a previous one has not fully healed, leading to an uncontrolled, severe swelling of the brain.

The coroner’s inquest of her death has produced recommendations for concussion protocols in youth sports across Canada, called “Rowan’s Law.”

In the United States there are already laws in place that dictate the management of youth concussions in organized sports. The U.S. concussion laws stemmed from when a young football player, Zackery Lystedt, who suffered 2 concussions during the same game. He was 13 years old at the time, when he suffered a life threatening brain injury after he returned to action following a second concussive blow.

A big issue with concussion in sports is the percentage of underreporting that goes on from athletes. Several studies have shown that anywhere between 40-50% of concussions suffered by student athletes were never reported to coaches or medical advisors. Some of the reasons that young athletes do not report their symptoms following a head injury is that they don’t want to miss any time from play, they don’t want to let their coaches or teammates down, or they don’t want to look weak. If is for this reason that concussion laws are in place, to protect kids from themselves.

It is known that young brains are more vulnerable to injury and also take longer than adults to heal. This is due in part to the number of “connections” that are being formed during the adolescent years. It is a time for shaping and moulding the young brain. Hence the reason to worry about concussions in young athletes and the need for stricter laws to protect them.

Some of the important recommendations from Rowan’s Law include:

  • mandatory concussion education and awareness for all young athletes, parents and coaches
  • the immediate removal of a young athlete from play if a concussion is suspected
  • strict adherence to return-to-learn and return-to-play protocols for youth athletes with concussions
  • medical clearance of all athletes before they return to play

It’s time that Canada follows its counterpart in the U.S. for implementing a concussion law that helps to protect our young athletes and hopefully prevent any catastrophic event. It’s time for Canada to wake up and protect our kids.

To read more about concussions from the four-part series from Postmedia News, read here: Rowan’s Law.

CARE Concussion Centre Presenting at the Use Your Head Concussion Workshop

Free Concussion Workshop

Dr. Mark Dubreuil from CARE Concussion Centre will be presenting at the “Use Your Head” Concussion Workshop hosted by the Brain Injury Association of Windsor and Essex on Monday November 9th, 2015 at the Essex Centre Sports Plex, Shaheen Community Room. A panel of experts will speak on various concussion topics, such as, identifying concussions on the playing field, return-to-play guidelines, school concussion policy and baseline testing. The event will bring like minded individuals from different areas of expertise to share their knowledge on the subject, and is being held to help educate people involved in sporting or schooling events where potential for concussion is real.

Concussion recognition and awareness has grown dramatically in the past few years and a lot of money and time has been allocated in for studying this common condition. We have to remember that concussions are in fact a type of brain injury and that there can be debilitating, even tragic, effects if not diagnosed or treated properly. One of CARE Concussion Centre’s main goals is to build awareness and help educate the general public as to what to look for if a concussion is suspected and the appropriate treatment options to prevent long term effects.

Dr. Dubreuil will be representing CARE Concussion Centre at the workshop and will be covering such topics as:

  1. Signs and Symptoms of a concussion to look for as a trainer
  2. Assessment on the ice or field of play
  3. Removal from play until medically cleared
  4. Return-to-play guidelines
  5. TSMHA Concussion Policy

The event is FREE and recommended for any coach, parent or child who is interested in learning about concussions or is involved in sports where players have a potential for sustaining a concussion. We look forward to seeing as many people as we can to come join us for this great event.

Date: November 9, 2015

Time: 6:30-8:30pm

Location: Essex Centre Sports Plex, Shaheen Community Room

For further information, please refer to:

To Concussion Baseline Test or Not?

The importance of Concussion Baseline Testing.

A concussion baseline test is a battery of tests performed prior to the start of a sporting season to help determine an athlete’s ‘normal’ cognitive and physical functions. By knowing what these individual ‘normal’ levels are, it can help in diagnosing the severity of a concussion, and also help assist with treatment protocolsconcussion baseline testing and return to play decisions.

Studies have shown that even when an athlete’s signs and symptoms may have cleared, there still may be cognitive impairments that are still present, which means the brain hasn’t fully healed yet. Thus the importance of a pre-season baseline test to have something to compare to and to help with detecting cognitive deficits that may not otherwise have shown up with a regular physical evaluation.

Complications may arise when an athlete returns-to-play too soon (before the brain has fully healed) and the potential for sustaining a second concussion that can ultimately lead to worsening of symptoms that last longer (post-concussion syndrome) or worse, the second impact syndrome, which is a very rare, but catastrophic brain injury that can potentially lead to death. This is where having baseline values to compare to, following an injury, can prevent premature return-to-play issues and hopefully any complications that may result.

We need to protect our young athletes against the risk of long-term or permanent brain damage, and have them baseline tested every year or two. The consensus statement provided at the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, recommended “that the assessment of cognitive functions should be an important component in the overall assessment of concussion and, in particular, any return-to-play protocol.” It should be re-iterated that the concussion baseline test is only a ‘tool’ to help determine properties of a concussion, and not a tool to be used to diagnose a concussion.

A great computerized test to help evaluate some neurocognitive functioning is a test called ImPACT, which was developed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. ImPACT was developed to assist health professionals in the detection and management of concussion type injuries. It is currently being used by most professional teams in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLS, etc… The specialized software can help with evaluating neurocognitive functions such as memory, attention span, processing speed, problem solving and reaction time, all which can be affected following a concussion.

Protect your child. Have them baseline tested.