Seafair Minor Hockey tackles concussions head on

Seafair Minor Hockey is a frontrunner in trying to provide a clearer picture when it comes to recovery from head injuries.

The association is developing a concussion protocol for all 650 of its players. In order for it to be effectively implemented, each child is being put through baseline testing.

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Through a partnership with Evolution Sport Therapy, the players are participating in functional movement screening tests. The ranking and grading system documents movement patterns that are vital to normal function.

It is testing your base in how your brain functions, explained Yogi Svejkovsky, Seafairs Director of Hockey Operations. Its simple memory tests of your own reaction. Now we have something to compare it to, should a player receive a concussion.

Making sure our kids are tested is also part of the overall awareness package. We thought why not be one of the first associations to do this and help a great game like hockey move forward.

Svejkovsky is all too familiar with hockey head injuries. He saw his NHL career end after just 19 games due to post-concussion syndrome. He had lingering symptoms for two years and opted to retire at just 23. Besides his involvement in minor hockey, he is also an assistant coach with the Vancouver Giants.

Some people or more prone than others and, unfortunately, I ran out of time to get to where I wanted to be, he said. It was a tough process but an easy decision (to retire). I knew I had a problem and (playing hockey) was something I shouldnt pursue any longer.

Svejkovsky, who still holds the Washington Capitals team record for a rookie with four goals in one game, suggests the pace of the game at the NHL and levels below has resulted in increasing head injuries, including Pittsburgh Penguins star Sydney Crosby who has been sidelined for nearly a year with post-concussion syndrome.

The speed of the game has changed, especially since the obstruction rule, added Svejkovsky. There really is no holding back and the equipment is harder too. Everything has evolved with the game, including medicine. We have taken some great strides and this program is one of them.

For Seafair Midget A1 head coach Scott Robinson, a concussion protocol could not have come at a better time.

He already has two players suffering from concussions, including one of his defenceman who was injured over the weekend.

He came off the ice and told me he had a bit of a headache. I said to him his night was done, said Robinson. Sure enough, he came in today and his (baseline) scores were off. Now hes looking at a seven to 10 day protocol right now.

You feel like you are responsible for those kids and you never want to be in a position where you are asking them to go out there and play. The days of telling them to suck it up princess are over.

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