Thursday, November 13, 2014

Concussion Care Can be Challenging for Parents

Concussion Care Challenges for Parents
as seen in USA Hockey Magazine Nov.2014

     Given what we’ve learned about the long-term damage of concussions,  I wish I could wrap my hockey player in bubble wrap.  There was a time when I rarely heard about concussions. But now?  There isn’t a season that goes by that I haven’t either witnessed a bad head injury or sat next to a parent  whose kid was out with one.
      West Springfield, Ma. Hockey mom Tiffany Basile  learned  about  concussions  in the hardest way possible for any mom. Her daughter ‘s talent and passion as a goalie put her on the radar with colleges and coaches.  Kaylee’s was riding high in her senior year, until her head suffered a blow when the opposing team stormed the net.  She was out with a concussion for a week.  A second hit to the head  that  took a real toll.  Kaleigh’s eyes couldn’t follow a pen, her balance was off.  She failed every computer brain test. When feelings of anxiety and depression set in, an MRI was ordered.  During the test,  Kaleigh suffered a seizure and  results confirmed what Basile had feared.  The risk of Kaleigh going back out on the ice, was too great.  “Breaking the news that she could never play again was horrible and heartbreaking.” But Basile says there simply was no option. “ It was best for her to steer clear of any activities that can risk more harm and inury. Her health and safety are first.” Basile advises parents to get educated about the signs and symptoms and educate your kids as best you can, “ I’m thankful to have my daughter with me after all she has been through.”

  Hockey dad Greg Jewett, also a phys ed teacher for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y.  raises concerns about protocol, especially  when it comes to returning to the ice after  a concussion. Last season’s Pee Wee coach was very supportive when his son, Alec, missed practices after suffering a mild concussion. But do all coaches feel that way?  Since it is not monitored by a school, it is a slippery slope. “ I think that youth hockey organizations should adopt the impact testing that high schools use as a way to measure brain activity and if a player is ready to return,” says Jewett.  “ But there are no trainers on site, no testing in place and this is a problem for youth hockey going forward.”
    Jewett raises a valid point that without a known protocol for an organization, it is difficult to enforce any rules and players often return too soon whether it be peer, coaching or parental influence to return to the ice too soon.

  Concussion care is challenging.  While we can’t reach for the bubble wrap , we can wrap ourselves in knowledge, seek timely medical treatment  and work on helping our teams develop protocol on when it’s safe for kids to suit up again.


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