COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Jan. 17, 2013

Lyle Karasiuk
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This Saturday evening will see the return of the long-awaited NHL season. If you are a hockey fan then you’ve got your seat reserved for the evening events. Hockey, like many other contact sports, has seen its fair share of players sitting out due to concussion injuries. Concussions account for the leading share of injuries in most contact sports. So what can be done or is being done about it?

As a parent you need to install an attitude with our child that helmets are essential part of the gear in any sport or activity where the risk of any head injury is evident. That means activities like snowboarding, tobogganing, ski, skating, cycling, ice hockey and more require us to wear a helmet. The facts are that a helmet will lessen the severity of the injury.

It’s like wearing your seat belt in a car won’t prevent you from being injured in a severe crash but it will likely save your life from being ejected or thrown around inside the vehicle like a small tennis ball. Wear a helmet each and every time and as parents set the example when you ask your child to wear one, then you should too!

Just like any type of equipment be sure the helmet fits well and if more than 5 years old consider replacing on a regular basis. Treat your equipment well and it will protect you from harm. Most sports stores can assist in choosing the right equipment that fits well and in some cases is applicable to multiple sports.

While wearing a helmet is essential so too is some knowledge about head injuries. Sometimes the competitive nature of the sport pushes a parent, coach or even spectators to encourage someone to return to play when they are not fit to play.

Any and every collision between two players or a player and a solid object can result in a concussion. Parents and coaches alike need to be informed to know when to sit them out and that sitting them isn’t just till the player feels “better’ but it is essential that they are cleared by a medical professional, your doctor.

Please don’t just sit the player till the next shift or period and then hold a couple fingers to their face and say “OK how fingers am I holding … great get back in there.” The attitude of returning someone to play before a complete medical assessment is a dangerous decision. It is clear from current research that certain professional athletes over time have had serious health issues because of repeated blows to the head.

Get some knowledge is very easy. One of the best sources with most up to date information can be found at www.concussioneducation.ca. This is an excellent education course for coach, parents, school officials and anyone who is involved with sport. There are plenty of local experts in our community as well who can easily be called upon to make a short presentation.

Simple message: Wear the gear and get some education but make smart safe choices for the health of all involved in sport.

Organizations: NHL

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