Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar: They’re bigger, they’re faster they’re stronger and so when they hit each other there’s more force with that impact. As a result, concussions are becoming a big issue in these folks like that.
Brady Calla: I was first introduced playing hockey when I was I believe I was like four or five years old started skating in North Vancouver, where I was born. You know it was just one of those things I think my parents wanted to get me into, to develop some you know work ethic. Basically, just create some friends in the community, and you’re taught at a young age to go out and play hard, whether that means violent, hitting hard or contact.
Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar: Over the course of one game, one season where players either hitting an opponent or getting hit themselves, you can start to see kind of the cumulative effects of those hits over time. So even if they don’t get diagnosed with a concussion they still may end up with some deficits that are not unlike what you see after an acute concussion. So that’s something that researchers are starting to become more and more interested in in terms of safety in the sports and being better able to make sure those athletes aren’t being exposed to too much risk.
Brady Calla: You almost crave that stuff you know it was it’s a weird thing and that’s the unfortunate thing about the era of hockey I played, you know it’s absolutely were programmed at a young age is to go out and play hard.
Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar: When a young athlete gets a concussion, there’s growing concern around what the potential long-term consequences of that would be, not only over the course of a few years but maybe over a lifetime. Certainly, players who play up to the professional level or the college level in sports like hockey or football will get hit quite often. So, there’s a lot of recent evidence in in the scientific literature around the development of the syndrome called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
Where retired professional athletes show evidence of significant degeneration in their brain that’s associated with the number of behavioral symptoms. So, the worry is that if you play contact sports for some period of time that you’re very likely to develop CTE.
Brady Calla: I was playing for the Everett Silvertips I was a 16-year-old kid. I remember he got into a tussle with a twenty-year-old guy at the time and I got a couple in, but I remember that he hit me and next thing I remember was waking up in the dressing room. I think I was kept out of the game, but it was that practice to the next day you know on the ice and in fact performing, and it was a tough thing to experience for sure.
Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar: Athletes returning to play too soon after concussion is the huge issue. Quite often because the clinical diagnosis is difficult to do, it’s sometimes unclear whether the person is completely recovered or not. If they have any lingering deficits that sometimes you aren’t able to pick up in a clinical situation, and then they return to their sporting situation where again they’re going to be exposed to impacts. They have the potential to re-injure themselves and sometimes with catastrophic consequences.
Brady Calla: If I say I’m hurt then the next guy he’s going to take my spot. You’re taught to get back up and play and not think of the pain.
Dr. Paul Van Donkelaar: The concussion research that has been taking place in our lab, and other labs around North America and the world has informed policies and sports administration bodies. Some of those policies have been around increased concussion awareness or changing the rules to make the sport safer and an issue is how well do those policies get followed.
So that’s an ongoing challenge in terms of protecting the athletes and doing what’s best in terms of the health of those individuals as opposed to the success of the game.
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