Concussions in Nelson: Surveying how our athletes are cared for

We asked 11 sports organizations how prepared they are right now for concussions that happen to athletes under their supervision.

Not all crashes are as harmless as this one was. The Nelson Star surveyed several local sports organizations about the steps they take to prepare for concussions.

Part six of a series on the people who have suffered concussions as well as those who treat them. For other stories, click here.

 

Athletes deserve to know how the sports organizations they play for are prepared to take care of them in case they suffer a concussion.

With this in mind, the Star surveyed 11 organizations about what, if any, services they offer. We posed four questions to representatives of each organization:

• How many athletes do you have?

• What is your concussion protocol?

• Are coaches trained to assess concussions?

• Do you offer baseline testing?

The results can be seen below, although certain caveats must be made clear.

Firstly, the Star did not speak to any combat sport organizations. Our survey was limited to sports in which aggressive head contact — hitting someone in the face, for example — was not an required part of the activity. We also elected to treat all organizations as equals regardless of the number of their athletes. Under this scenario, care for the Nelson’s 165 minor hockey players, for example, is held to the same standard as the city’s 900 soccer players.

Whitewater Ski Resort is also included in the survey. While the resort does offer medical services, visitors don’t necessarily alert staff when an injury takes place.

What this survey shows is that while most organizations are prepared for concussions, the level of care varies significantly. Several respondants also admitted they did not know what baseline testing was, while others expressed interest in introducing concussion protocols and training for their coaches.

This is what we found:

Nelson Leafs

Athletes: 23 on active roster.

Concussion protocol: Removal from play following sideline assessment.

Coach training: Two trainers employed along with athletic therapist. Coaches required to take Concussion Awareness Training Tool online course prior to next season.

Baseline testing: Mandatory prior to each season.

Nelson Minor Hockey Association

Athletes: 165

Concussion protocol: Removal from play following sideline assessment (Maddocks questions).

Coach training: No mandatory training.

Baseline testing: Yes. NMHA pays for pre-season testing for all athletes who wish to have testing done.

L.V. Rogers Secondary

Athletes: 160 students on 18 teams.

Concussion protocol: None.

Coach training: None.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Nelson Youth Soccer

Athletes: 900

Concussion protocol: None. BC Soccer requires one in place by September.

Coach training: First aid and use of Sport Concussion Assessment Tool. No concussion-specific training.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Kootenay Whitecaps Academy

Athletes: 300

Concussion protocol: None. Athletes asked to follow up with doctor.

Coach training: First aid, but no concussion-specific training.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Glacier Gymnastics

Athletes: 783

Concussion protocol: Yes. Return-to-play protocol used as outlined by the National Coaching Certification Program.

Coach training: Yes. Training mandatory as part of certification process.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Nelson Baseball Association

Athletes: 140

Concussion protocol: None.

Coach training: None.

Baseline testing: None.

Nelson Skating Club

Athletes: 154

Concussion protocol: Removal from ice, doctor’s note required for return.

Coach training: First aid but no concussion training.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Whitewater Ski Resort

Athletes: Estimated 100,000 visitors last season.

Concussion protocol: Yes. Injured visitors are assessed by staff and given transport off the mountain if necessary.

Coach training: Annual concussion training required for ski patrol staff.

Baseline testing: Not applicable.

Whitewater Alpine Team

Athletes: 140

Concussion protocol: Mandatory two-week absence.

Coach training: No mandatory training. Whitewater Ski Resort first-aid responders called in case of injury.

Baseline testing: None offered.

Whitewater Freeride Team

Athletes: 40

Concussion protocol: Removal from play but no specific protocol.

Coach training: No mandatory training. Whitewater Ski Resort first-aid responders called in case of injury.

Baseline testing: None offered.

 

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