By David Salvaire
The company bringing the International Ice Hockey Classic to Perth in June say it’s time to rethink the way we educate young players about concussion.
Not-for-profit group Stop Concussions says unlike cuts and bruises, brain injuries are for life and are all too common in ice hockey.
The big hits and fighting the game is renowned for have caused serious brain injuries and Stop Concussions’ founder Kerry Goulet believes the best way to reduce the damage is to teach young people to play properly.
“In sport we can control the physicality by following the rules and teaching people the proper techniques.”
“We also need to teach our young players that courage is no longer sucking it up and playing through
the pain. Courage is being able to communicate and talk about it and say to someone that you don’t feel right,” he says.
“We need to know when to sit out and get a concussion diagnosed and so far we haven’t done a good job at that.”
Mr Goulet was forced to retire from professional hockey after he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.
“It took me six months before I realised I had a brain injury, I was tired and dizzy, I thought that was normal in professional sports.”
“As athletes we’re driven to play through the pain and win at all costs but with this injury you can’t do that. With concussion you can’t see it, touch it or find it on an MRI so we feel like we can keep playing,” he says.
“We want to change the mindset, not the game itself.”
Sydney Fricker, who suffered concussion playing for the Cockburn Skyhawks, says it took her months to get back on the ice.
“I basically couldn’t get out of bed for over a month and I slept about 18 hours a day.”
“When I finally got back on the ice I had to learn how to play hockey all over again, it scared me,” she says.
“It’s part of the game though, hockey without checking isn’t hockey.”
Sydney Fricker tells David Salvaire more about her brain injury: