Con­cus­sions aren’t any­thing to mess with

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is the re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass in Car­bon­ear. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Talk­ing hockey and bring­ing up the sub­ject of a con­cus­sion is as com­mon as drop­ping the puck nowa­days it seems. And that’s with good rea­son. As we learn more and more about head trauma and the af­fect it can have on our lives, it’ll con­tinue to be a hot topic.

Hockey is a col­li­sion sport. Even de­spite re­mov­ing check­ing from ev­ery­thing other than the high­est lev­els, col­li­sions still hap­pen and will con­tinue to hap­pen.

As long as they do, we’ll con­tinue to talk con­cus­sions and their ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

That’s why hear­ing some­one dis­miss the pos­si­bil­ity of a con­cus­sion isn’t easy to lis­ten to in to­day’s age. Not when we have so much more in­for­ma­tion avail­able and not when hor­ror sto­ries keep pop­ping up.

Sto­ries like the one where a tal­ented young goal­tender from the re­gion re­cently left the game be­cause of a series of con­cus­sions.

There’s been more than enough ink spilled on the sub­ject be­fore now and I’m not claim­ing to be an ex­pert.

All I can base my opin­ion on — which is what this is — is what I’ve read lately.

In­cred­i­bly, there are still plenty of dis­mis­sive at­ti­tudes to­wards con­cus­sions. Ei­ther par­ents aren’t read­ing the moun­tains of ma­te­rial re­cently be pro­duced on the sub­ject or they just don’t care or be­lieve in the re­search. All it takes is one. The first one is only the be­gin­ning. If a player comes back too soon, the risk of re­ceiv­ing a head in­jury in­creases ever so slightly.

It’s not al­ways the hard hits that can rat­tle some­one’s brain. Even some­thing as sim­ple as fall­ing hard on the ice can trig­ger an­other con­cus­sion.

We like to put words like ‘mi­nor’ or ‘bad’ in front of the word to quan­tify it, when in re­al­ity ev­ery con­cus­sion is as bad as the next one.

It’s scary stuff when you think about it.

Gone are the days when sit­ting out a cou­ple of shifts af­ter the ini­tial headache sub­sides be­fore hit­ting the ice again.

Now play­ing through a pos­si­ble con­cus­sion isn’t a sign of tough­ness. Call me soft if you want, I’m only giv­ing you some­thing to con­sider.

We don’t know how long it can take some­one to get over a con­cus­sion and I don’t think pre­sum­ing to know is do­ing young ath­letes any good.

Maybe they come back in a week, maybe it takes longer. With head in­juries, play­ing the long game might be the best bet.

Yet, there are still so many who will come back too soon. What’s more, some par­ents will al­low re­ally young ath­letes to choose.

The con­cus­sion is sec­ondary to the game.

Shouldn’t health be at the top of the list?

With so much in­for­ma­tion at our fin­ger­tips with re­gards to the hu­man brain and how trauma can af­fect it, is it re­ally good enough to dis­miss a con­cus­sion?

I don’t think it is.

We don’t know how long it can take some­one to get over a con­cus­sion.

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