What is stopconcussions.com? stopconcussions.com is an online concussion/neurotrauma educational and awareness platform to address the growing trend of concussions in sports. It is a portal that players, parents, coaches, and officials can visit to seek information regarding concussions, with the goal of becoming more aware and ultimately safer individuals in their respective sports. stopconcussions.com will have sport specific programs to help change the mindset of the sport, not the game.
Former Philadelphia Flyers captain, Keith Primeau and former European professional hockey player, Kerry Goulet officially launched stopconcussions.com on May 4, 2011 at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The main goal of this organization is to raise the awareness on concussions and the impact they are having on our youth today. Also to raise the awareness of the impact of putting players, in any sport, back into the game too early.
As Keith and I began talking about concussions and head trauma over 5 years ago, we started to get calls from concerned professional players, youth trainers, coaches, parents, and those suffering from this invisible injury. We realized that they felt very confused and distraught by the overwhelming abundance of information and at times, misinformation. As we are both post concussion sufferers, as well as a parent and coaches of youth athletes we too, at times, became overwhelmed and confused as to where to turn for advice and information. Since Sidney Crosby, one of the best hockey players in the world, was injured we have been made more aware of the problems concussions bring into our lives. It is important for you to learn more about this injury since we can’t see it, smell it or touch it. Only you can tell your parents, your coach or the doctor how you feel. Understand it is not COOL to hide it and we no longer just suck it up. It is okay to talk about how your head feels after a fall or a bodycheck.
Today it is important to take concussions seriously. It is important to understand that a concussion is a brain injury and must be handle immediately and effectively. As a young person playing sport or participating in individual activities you must be aware of the dangers of hurting your head.
That is why Keith and I have approached this issue from an inside-out concept; players helping the medical and sports world understand the injury. We also have a great medical support team with Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski along with a tremendous research team headed up by Dr. William Montelpare. We have added Malcolm Sutherland to handle all of our educational platforms for coaches. He helped created the TIPS manual with myself and Dr. Montelpare. Stopconcussions has established an alliance with Shift Concussion Management to launch the first complete SCC Concussion Care Clinic located at the Chesswood Arena in Toronto. This is a 24/7 clinic to deal with concussion issues in all sport. Here is the toll free number 1-855-223-1002. As you read further you will get a true understanding of the injury and Keith answers some questions about concussions and the myths!
What is a concussion (say: kun-kuh-shun)?
A concussion is when you hit your head really hard and temporarily hurt your brain. We don’t always get concussions when we hit our heads because our brain is protected by our hard skulls and floats in a special protective fluid. But, if you hit your head hard enough, your brain can shift inside your skull and can bounce against the skull’s boney surface.
A concussion changes the way your brain works and how you feel. If you hit your head hard enough, you may feel dizzy or shaky, get sick to your stomach, be confused, or have trouble remembering what happened. You may even feel like you’re in a fog and have a headache. Sometimes you can be unconscious (knocked out or passed out) for a short period of time. This could mean you’ve had a concussion.
Keith answers some questions about concussions and the myths!
Question: “I suffered a concussion in my game last night. People say I took a vicious elbow to the head, but I don’t remember the hit at all. Once I got off the ice and into the dressing room I felt really dizzy and threw up once. I still have a really bad headache today. I’ve heard about the symptoms of concussions but never realized they could be this bad!”
Keith: “It sounds like you took a pretty hard blow to the head. Elbow’s to the head usually cause your brain to rotate in your skull causing more damage. As for your symptoms, they may feel un-bearable right now but they will get better with rest and recovery. It is important to keep your daily activity very low key to allow your brain time to rest.”
Question: “Last game I was skating behind the net during warm up. I guess I wasn’t watching the players shooting because I got hit in the side of the head by a slap shot. My legs buckled from under me and I fell to the ice. I got up and tried to shake it off. I remember getting hit but everything after that is kind of blurry. I have a real bad headache too. Could I have a concussion?”
Keith: “Ouch! Sounds like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time! Your symptoms and the fact that you lost control of your muscle control indicate that you have suffered a concussion. Helmets go a long way to prevent these injuries but they can’t stop everything. Just imagine how bad this could have been if there were no helmets! Make sure you have a properly fitted good quality helmet to lessen the chances of suffering a head injury.”
Causes: Your brain is kind of like jelly and it floats in a fluid that helps protect it from everyday shakes and bumps. A hard thump to your head can cause your brain to slide into the inside walls of your skull. You can even get a concussion if you get hit in the neck, face or body because these can cause a sudden jarring of your head. Even a sudden stop, like bumping into the boards, can bounce your brain around and cause a concussion.
Other Problems from Concussions
Getting your first concussion is bad, getting another one is worse. Getting another concussion will make you feel worse than the first time and it will take a lot longer to get over it.
Question: “I had my first tryout with a Jr. B team last night. The players are all a lot older and bigger than I’m used to. One hit really rang my bell and I have not been feeling like myself today. I really want to play the exhibition game tonight, but I have heard that if I get hit hard again I could hurt myself even more. It would be better to wait for the next tryout after I have some rest.”
Keith: “You should definitely listen to your conscience and take some time off. Junior B is a big step up for someone who isn’t used to the size and speed of older players. You need to make sure you are 100% healthy before returning to play or you run the risk of getting hurt again, and this time it could be much more serious.”
What Can You do if You Think You Have a Concussion?
The first thing is to stop doing what you’re doing and tell an adult, like your parents or your coach. Let them know what happened and how you feel. For example, you hit your head on the ice and now you feel like being sick or you’re dizzy.
Question: “I was crashing the net hard and tripped on someone’s stick which caused me to crash headfirst into the boards. The hit really dazed me, and I feel really confused. I’ve been having the season of my life and the scouts have even been talking about me. I don’t want ruin a chance at the OHL by telling the coach I don’t think I should keep playing, but I don’t want to ruin my life either if I keep playing…”
Keith: “There are some injuries that you may be able to play through the pain with, but injuries to your brain are different. If you keep playing you are much more likely to suffer a second concussion, and in such a short period of time this would be devastating to your health. You are young and there will be plenty more opportunities to impress the scouts. You want to make sure you are 100% healthy to be able to show them your full potential, and playing with a concussion does not allow you to play your best.”
Question: “I’ve had concussions before, and it always felt like a guessing game on when I should be able to play again. About a month ago I suffered a more serious concussion and the doctor gave me some strict guidelines to follow. This took the guessing out of deciding when it was the right time to return to hockey, and I am thankful for it because when I did return to play I felt like I had done the right thing to protect my brain.”
Keith: “Recovery timelines for concussions, like you said, are hard to determine. Return to play guidelines are useful because they give you tangible steps to follow as you progress through your recovery. Seeing as you have had concussions before, it is important that you take all the time necessary to heal and not rush back to play. It sounds like you have done this and most likely are performing at 100% now that you have let your brain fully recover.”
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