WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?
A concussion is a brain injury. Concussions are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell run, “ or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
You can’t see a concussion. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the
symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away.
- Teach proper skating technique (head up to see surroundings, knee bend for proper balance) and how to correctly give and receive a hit (see USAHockey.com for material). This is applicable for both boys and girls.
- Helmets must fit securely around the head and be fastened tightly.
- Perform neck strengthening exercises.
- Do not allow players to play in a dangerous manner. The attitude of the coach and parent plays a role in a player’s aggressiveness.
- Teach your players about the prevention, management, and treatment of concussions.
- Encourage all players to get a baseline test performed by health care professionals. Baseline tests enable medical staff to more accurately diagnose the severity of a concussion and monitor the athlete's readiness for returning to play.
ASSESSING A POTENTIAL CONCUSSION
The following are tools that can be used to assess a player if you suspect a concussion. These are not diagnostic tools. For proper diagnosis, the player should always be seen by a health care professional.
MEMORY: Ask the player questions they should know the answer to such as date, period, opponent.
FOCUS: Talk with the player, are they focusing on the conversation? Able to speak with coherent sentences?
PHYSICAL TEST: Ask the player to touch their finger to their nose numerous times, is the player able to do this properly?
While assessing the player, keep in mind the most common signs and symptoms of concussions.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
(observed by coaches & parents)
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets general hockey plays (breakout, etc...)
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows behavior or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to or after hit or fall
(reported by athlete)
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Does not “feel right”
If you suspect a player has a concussion, you should take the following steps:
- Remove athlete from play, keep him/her supervised, and alert the athlete's parents of the signs and symptoms. This is required of youth coaches and officials by Minnesota State Law.
- Ensure athlete is evaluated by an informed health care professional. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself.
- Inform the athlete’s parents of Minnesota Hockey's suggested “Return to Play” guidelines.
RETURN TO PLAY GUIDELINES
These guidelines are meant to act as a suggestion for players after they suffer a concussion. The length of each phase varies depending on the severity of the concussion and the individual. Players should continue to the next phase only if all the signs and symptoms of a concussion are gone. An informed health care professional should be consulted throughout the return to play protocol, especially if the signs and symptoms continue or reappear at any time.