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Cognitive Training Could Prevent Concussions

By Jackson Wrightman, 03/26/18, 1:30PM CDT


University of Delaware researchers show link between training hockey sense and safer play

Concussions in hockey are an increasing concern for parents and players and at all levels.

Typically, precautions surrounding head injuries have focused primarily on treatment and diagnosis. However, a study out of the University of Delaware shows promise in the use of a cognitive training program that improves hockey sense and could actually prevent damaging injuries from happening in the first place. This short video summarizes the study and its findings.

Concussions are the most dangerous long term injuries in hockey. About 75% of players suffer at least one injury per season, and even subconcussive blows (head impacts which do not show clinically observed dysfunction) are very common and are associated with neuropathological deficits later in life. Combined with the fact that adolescents typically take longer to recover from concussions than adults and children, it is clear that players and parents have a vested interest in preventing concussions.

The study by Thomas A. Buckley and Melissa S. DiFabio looked at a sample group of youth (U16 and U18) ice hockey players (see full study summary here). A test group used a cognitive training program for hockey called IntelliGym . A second (control) group did not use the cognitive trainer. Dr Buckley tracked both the number and magnitude of head impacts over the course of the season. The IntelliGym group showed a 50% reduction in the number of head impacts in the second half of the season  and less total linear acceleration.

These findings demonstrate that IntelliGym is a primary prevention strategy to safeguard the health of ice hockey players - and as we know prevention before the fact is better than treatment after.

IntelliGym is a cognitive training program originally developed to train fighter pilots. It has been shown to improve on hockey sense and game understanding with initial results within five to six weeks. It is used by players off the ice as part of an overall training regimen and is currently used by more than 25,000 hockey players. Intelligym is used by entire teams, as well as individuals players who are interesting in boosting their hockey sense as part of their overall training strategy.

After so many years of high profile news around concussions it is  encouraging to see scientific evidence about reducing the risk of head impacts in ice hockey. For adolescent players in particular, Hockey IntelliGym could very well be a promising means of limiting injury while improving game play.

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