4 Things Hockey Players Need To Know About Concussions

Concussions are a common injury for hockey players. Concussions are responsible for a whopping 10.3% of injuries sustained during games and 6.3% of games sustained during practices. Here are four things hockey players need to know about concussions.

How do concussions occur?

Concussions occur when an impact to the head shift's the position of the brain inside the skull for a short time. The brain returns to its normal position, but the damage has already been done. The brief disruption interferes with the electrical activities of the brain, specifically, the reticular activating system.

How can hockey players get concussions?

Since leagues of all levels require their players to wear helmets, you may be surprised that the rate of concussions among hockey players is so high. After all, your helmet's job is to protect your head while you're on the ice.

However, helmets haven't actually been shown to prevent concussions. If you're checked by another player, or if you fall on the ice and hit your head, your helmet will protect you from lacerations, but it won't stop your brain from moving inside your skull. Researchers think that helmets give players a false sense of security and encourage them to act more recklessly on the ice, which also contributes to concussions among hockey players.

What are the signs of concussions?

If you suffer a concussion, you'll have a headache and feel confused. You may not remember the incident that caused your concussion. Additional symptoms include dizziness, a ringing noise in your ears or fatigue.

In the days after your injury, you may start noticing additional symptoms. You may have trouble concentrating or remembering things, you may be more irritable than you normally are and you may notice changes in your senses of taste and smell.

How are concussions treated?

If you suffer a concussion, you need to stop playing immediately and seek urgent care. You can't get back on the ice until your doctor has cleared you to return to play. The treatment for concussions includes both physical and cognitive rest until your symptoms have cleared completely. Physical rest is fairly straightforward and involves avoiding sports, workouts and other physical activities. Cognitive rest is more difficult and involves avoiding anything that makes you think or concentrate. This means that you can't entertain yourself with television or video games while you're healing. Your recovery period will be very boring, but it's important to follow your doctor's instructions to let your brain heal.

If you hit your head during a game or practice, stop playing immediately and see a doctor.