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Reporting Initiates Recovery Process

By Minnesota Hockey, 12/10/13, 9:30AM CST

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When in doubt, sit them out!

When it comes to concussions, more and more people are taking these injuries seriously. Yet, research continues to show that the reporting of concussions lags behind the actual number of injuries.

This only compounds the problem as successive concussions, especially without full recovery, leads to more serious and long lasting issues, including Second Impact Syndrome which can have catastrophic consequences.  Even more so than any other injury, potential concussions need to be reported and properly diagnosed by a professional to initiate the recovery process and preserve the individual’s long term health.

To help with reporting, here are the signs and symptoms that coaches, parents and the athletes themselves should be looking for.

Coaches and Parents

There are many signals coaches and parents can look for when assessing if a player has suffered a concussion.  It is important to know what these warning signs are and continuously be looking for them.  Remember big hits or collisions aren’t the only causes of concussions.  Aggressive blows sometimes result in fewer or less noticeable signs and symptoms than less violent impacts, and it can take 48 hours or longer for these signs to appear.  Here are some indicators to keep an eye on:

  • Appears to be dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment
  • Forgets general hockey plays (breakout, etc…)
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily, displaying less balance or coordination than usual
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even temporarily)
  • Shows behavior or personality change
  • Can’t recall events before or after the hit or fall

If one of your players starts showing these signals, it is likely they have suffered a concussion.  The player should be removed from play immediately and evaluated by a trained professional prior to returning. 

Players

Although it will mainly be the coach’s or parent’s responsibility to remove a player with a concussion, it is important to educate and encourage players to report any symptoms.  Players feel the effects of concussions first hand and can help detect them sooner.  The following symptoms are often difficult to observe and should be reported by the player:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Concentration or memory problems

In order for players to be an effective part of the diagnosis process, it is critical that coaches and parents empower them by asking questions about these symptoms following any potential head injury.  Players are capable of describing what they are feeling if given the chance.

Any player reporting or displaying these symptoms needs to be removed from play until they can be evaluated by an experience medical professional. After all, it is better to miss one game than an entire season!

Only trained physicians are qualified to determine if a concussion has actually been sustained.  However, it is up to coaches, parents, and players to make the initial call on removal from play to avoid further damage and initiate the proper steps in concussion testing and management.

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National Dizzy and Balance Center (NDBC) is the official baseline testing partner of Minnesota Hockey. NDBC will answer critical questions regarding concussions throughout the season in the Minnesota Hockey Newsletter. For more information, please visit www.stopdizziness.com or call 952-345-3000. 

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