Concussion Prevention Resource Centre
Because of the contact nature of the game and the speed with which it is played, the brain is vulnerable to injury. Trauma may occur through direct contact to the head or face or indirectly through a whiplash effect. Injuries to the brain are characterized by an altered state of consciousness. It is the altered state of consciousness that is the key thing to look for with any head injury.
NOTE: Children are more sensitive to the effects of a concussion and may need to have a longer period of rest prior to returning to activity and the sport.
A concussion is a common injury, but since they cannot be detected on x-rays or CT scans, they have been difficult to fully investigate and understand. Fortunately, there have been many important advances in our knowledge of concussions, including how to identify, manage, and recover from a concussion. Although concussions are often referred to as ‘mild traumatic head injuries’ and often resolve uneventfully, ALL concussions have the potential for serious and long-lasting symptoms and so must be treated carefully and in consultation with a physician.
What causes a concussion?
Concussions are brain injuries caused by the impact of the brain with the inside of the skull. The impact causes damage that changes how brain cells function, leading to symptoms that can be physical (headaches, dizziness), cognitive (problems remembering or concentrating), or emotional (feeling depressed). A concussion can result from a blow to the head or body in any number of activities including sports. The Parachute website has more information.
Where can I learn about signs and symptoms?
HEO Concussion Protocols
Hockey Canada Concussion Web Page
What do I do if I think a player has a concussion?
Hockey Canada Concussion Card
Parachute Canada – For Coaches
Parachute Canada – For Parents
Return to play guidelines
Parachute Canada - Return to Sport Strategy
HTCP Return to Play Form
Do hockey helmets prevent concussions?
Is there such a thing as a concussion helmet? The answer is a resounding NO! Helmets are important and very effective against localized head injuries such as skull fractures but they have limited effectiveness against concussions.
Suffice it to say that regardless of what you hear or read, concussion helmets do not yet exist. Reducing the concussion risk will require behavioural adjustments on many fronts.
Hockey Canada Equipment Fitting Video (YouTube)
How can a concussion be prevented?
Never check to the head
Hockey Canada adopted a new penalty for the 2002-03 season that is enforced at all levels of play within hockey in Canada. The penalty is checking to the head, and it was hoped that the enforcement of this rule would address and lead to the reduction of concussions in hockey at all levels of play within Hockey Canada.
Never hit from behind
Beginning with the 1985-86 season, Hockey Canada introduced a rule to eliminate checking from behind. With the implementation of rules, prevention and awareness Hockey Canada will continue to decrease the number of concussions in the game. But it takes more than this, it takes cooperation from all involved including parents to continue to enforce respect and safety in the game.
Concussion Prevention Training
Parachute Canada - Smart Hockey Program
Say NO to locker boxing
A new type of violence has found its way into amateur hockey and is cause for great concern within minor hockey in Canada. Locker boxing is an activity that takes place when players put their helmets and gloves on with the intention of punching each other in a vicious manner – often in the head area.
Hockey Canada does not condone this type of behaviour or any other type of fighting between players either on or off the ice. With increased awareness and education concerning concussions in sport, it is becoming more apparent that any type of blow to the head area has the potential to cause severe injury regardless of whether or not a player is wearing a helmet. Concussion injuries can cause lengthy loss of playing time and end players’ careers, and recent evidence suggests that the cumulative effects of multiple concussions can have a detrimental effect on the lives of young athletes in the long term.
Coaches and team leaders are asked to work to eliminate this type of behaviour both in the dressing room and in areas where this behaviour can potentially occur by implementing prevention plans and team rules against locker boxing and fighting and by clearly defining these to all coaches, team managers, safety people and parents throughout the season. This, combined with player and parent education with respect to concussions, will help to eliminate this type of behaviour.
Another significant component of preventing this type of behaviour in the dressing room, or during any team function, is proper team supervision. Hockey Canada stresses the importance of players being supervised at all times during team activities to help ensure a safe environment. The Speak Out program outlines in detail important steps that must be taken to ensure adequate supervision of players.
Hockey Canada asks all involved with the game in leadership roles to assist in ensuring that these types of behaviours are eliminated and hockey continues to offer a safe, fun and positive experience for all involved.
In an effort to provide Hockey Canada branches, minor hockey associations and leadership personnel responsible for the supervisor of minor hockey teams with appropriate direction in dealing with this issue, this is a reminder that there are excellent resources available in the Speak Out program curriculum.
Minor hockey personnel are encouraged to visit the Minor Hockey section of the Hockey Canada website at www.hockeycanada.ca for more information on bullying, harassment and abuse.
Information for Parents
Communicate with your son or daughter
As a parent, one of the most important steps is to communicate with your son or daughter and explain to them why certain infractions are being emphasized. If you as a parent show frustration when a penalty is called so will your child. Be positive and avoid reacting negatively when a penalty is called.
Respect the officials
As a parent you are encouraged to visit the Hockey Canada web site to gain an understanding of the standard of play and rules emphasis initiative. Be patient with the officials as they refine their game management techniques in an effort to make the game safer and more exciting for the players. Also take the opportunity to visit the online rule book to learn about the different rules of the game.
Hockey Canada Rule Book
Next time you are at the rink, try watching the game from the official’s perspective.
Work with your child’s coach.
As a parent on your child’s team, you are an important component of the team’s structure. Work with your child’s coach to support the rule emphasis and work with your coaches to teach the players what is expected of them. A major key is to encourage respect for the officials, their teammates and other players around them.
Hockey Canada Concussion Toolbox
Hockey Canada Safety Program
Rowan's Law Form
Player Medical Information Sheet
HEO Injury Report Form - English
HEO Injury Report Form - Francais
Fair Play Pledges
Bench Staff Fair Play Pledge form
Parents Fair Play Pledge form
Players Fair Play Pledge form