A Southern California youth hockey club took proactive steps recently to ensure its young players get the treatment they need should they suffer a concussion on the ice.
Twenty-nine young hockey players, ages 13 to 16, from two Valencia Flyers travel teams participated in the neuro-cognitive baseline assessments in a computer lab at Valencia High School. The program was provided free by Providence Health & Services and its affiliate, Facey Medical Group.
By undergoing this testing in advance, physicians treating players who suffer concussions use pre- and post-injury comparisons to better diagnose and manage concussions. Numerous studies show the cumulative impacts of concussion can cause serious long-term brain injury if not properly diagnosed and treated.
“Head coach Pavel Sisak is focused on safety for his players and aware that concussion is always a possibility in hockey and other contact sports, even when players wear protective gear”, said Mike Smith, one of the Flyers’ team managers.
Saif Usman, M.D., a sports medicine specialist with Facey Medical Group, oversees the local program. This was the first sports medicine community outreach by Providence in the Santa Clarita Valley. Providence has a network of primary care sports medicine physicians and neurologists specially trained in the treatment and management of concussions.
“The baseline evaluation is an important tool for young athletes because it provides for a comparison in the event an athlete sustains a concussion,” Dr. Usman said. “Once we know a patient has suffered a concussion, we can manage the symptoms appropriately and determine how to proceed towards full recovery. There is a large body of evidence that cumulative concussions can cause significant long term brain injury.”
Providence Health & Services, Southern California, provides these free baseline assessments as a community service with the goal of helping young athletes prevent severe long-term effects of concussion. Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, ranked by US News & World Report among the top 25 hospitals in California for quality, serves the Santa Clarita Valley.
A state law that took effect this year extended the existing requirements for concussion safety protocols to protect young high school athletes to cover all recreational sports and athletes under age 18. The Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute of Providence is committed to providing free baseline concussion assessments to youth athletes in all the communities we serve.
“This bill places California at the forefront of improving concussion management at the youth sports level,” said Mike Chisar of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association. “It will help ensure the appropriate steps are taken so our coaches, parents and athletes are educated on the signs and symptoms of concussion, and help minimize the risk of serious injury.”
The new law aims to make sports safer by using education regarding the signs and symptoms of concussion and managing injuries by following established protocols for a safe return to play.