May 28, 2009

Many in hockey don’t understand concussion

Serious misconceptions exist among young hockey players, athletes, coaches and parents about concussion symptoms, a Canadian researcher said.

Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, analyzed the concussion knowledge of 142 adults -- coaches, trainers and parents -- and 267 players from GTA Atom (10-year-olds), Bantam (14-year-olds), AA (highly competitive) and house league divisions.

While many can identify how a concussion may occur, most cannot identify the symptoms and are under the impression that concussions can be treated with physician-prescribed medication or physical therapy, Cusimano said in a statement.

Many also believe it's OK to return to play before they have fully recovered from such a brain injury. This is troublesome since repeated brain injuries can lead to long-term effects in functions such as memory, behavior, mood social relations and school or work performance.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, found:

-- Up to two-thirds of players had the mistaken impression a player must lose consciousness to have suffered a concussion.

-- One-quarter of adults and up to half of children could not identify any symptoms of a concussion or could name only one symptom of a concussion.

-- About one-half of players and one-fifth of adults mistakenly believed concussions are treated with medication or physical therapy.

-- About one-quarter of all players did not know if an athlete experiencing symptoms of a concussion should continue playing (they shouldn't).