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Concussions… When is it safe to return to Activity?

Concussions… When is it safe to return to Activity?

There are currently several full-time NHL players missing time with concussions or concussion-related injuries.  Many NFL roster players are in the same boat.

Countless other pro athletes, too, connected to the NHL and NFL aren’t accounted for by these numbers (non-roster NFL players injured in practice or scrimmage, or minor league/occasional-NHL players injured in the minors), and they miss those affected by concussion in minor, college, high-school, competitive and rec leagues too…

We hear a lot about how pro leagues are handling concussions, and about steady or declining numbers of concussions.  But whatever the trend, concussions are still prevalent in contact sport, and with the NFL post-season approaching, and with the dog-days of the NHL schedule upon us, we also hear countless stories of Player X’s return to practice, or return to game-play, and lots of talk about properly observed concussion-treatment protocols.

Not only is there more to be found on the diagnosis of concussions in pro sports than on their treatment, but the stories tend to focus on the return to action – which must be approached extremely carefully in the event of a concussion.  

While parent/coach resources exist to help identify concussions, and while Hockey Canada has an app to promote awareness about concussions and about safe ‘return-to-play’ guidelines, they’re not clear enough about just how gradual a return to action has to be, and about what constitutes action.

More general guidelines about Return to Activity after a concussion, such as those from the CDC in the States, emphasize just how little activity is recommended in the wake of a concussion, and just how phased in a return to any sort of action, let alone sports, should be.

If you’re dealing with concussion, or post-concussion treatment, make sure you’re following a plan… and don’t ask “can I play Sunday?”, ask instead “what do I need to do, diligently, so that I can return to my day-to-day life?”  Brain injuries are serious business… treat them right.

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