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Does Stanley Cup Toughness Set a Bad Example?

By Minnesota Hockey with National Dizzy & Balance Center, 01/07/13, 12:00PM CST


Hockey players have long been heralded as some of the toughest athletes in the world of sports. The Stanley Cup Playoffs showcase players and teams battling through injuries that vary from stitched faces to broken bones. It’s not surprising that hockey players of all ages feel it is necessary to display similar acts of toughness. Add in coaches who often reinforce these expectations and the fear of losing your place on the team; it is easy to see why many injuries, especially concussions which often have less visible symptoms, go unnoticed or unreported.

Meanwhile, medical professionals continue to compile unanimous data that concussion damage is cumulative and can affect long term mental health. Yet, some hockey players and coaches ignore the warnings.  It’s possible they think that concussions are like many injuries in which pain – not the potential of a more serious injury or long term damage – is the only result of continued participation.

The truth is concussions can have long-term effects and can even be life threatening if a player continues to take part in team activities. When an individual suffers another head injury before the first concussion is resolved, the result is “Second Impact Syndrome” (SIS).  Players that suffer SIS are at risk of brain swelling, brain damage and/or death.

With consequences like SIS and long term brain damage, it is critical that all players and coaches take the initiative to raise concussion education and awareness, approach these injuries with caution and seek appropriate medical attention.

National Dizzy & Balance Center (NDBC) can help with their comprehensive approach to concussion awareness and management. For more information on what NDBC can do for your hockey player, visit or call 952-345-3000.

Concussions - No "Normal" Injury

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s injury this fall provides a great example of the line between “normal” injuries and those that require removal from play. Roethlisberger, who is regarded by many as being one of the toughest QB’s in the league and has a history of playing through injury, was knocked out of a game against the Chiefs. 

Originally, the news was that he had suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder. It sounded painful but the general opinion was he would still play given his reputation. Shortly after this, additional reports were released with the announcement of a dislocated rib. The team’s medical staff believed the rib may puncture a lung with any further contact. Roethlisberger’s injury situation went from one he could play through to an injury that could become life threatening with continued participation. Roethlisberger was wisely removed from participation until that danger was eliminated.

It is important for coaches, players and parents to understand that concussions aren’t “normal” injuries. Playing through concussions can lead to dire consequences and needs to be discouraged.

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