Tuesday, 1 February 2011

WHL Taking Head Injuries Seriously

The number of concussions and head shots are not only on the rise in the National Hockey League , it's also a concern in the Western Hockey League.

On the league's latest injury report (January 25th edition), 18 players were listed as being out with a concussion or head injury including Brandon product Brayden Cuthbert of the Moose Jaw Warriors (below left).

"This is an ongoing matter that we're talking to the general managers about...we have a committee working on it," said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in an interview with me last week, "We also have a concussion management system in place where we have consultants hired to monitor and provide us with the data."

The number of concussions and head injuries appears to be on the rise, but at least part of the reason is the increased awareness and detection of this type of injury.

"We have a higher level of detection because we have a new return-to-play protocol that's in place that has perhaps set a higher standard," says Robison, "Regardless, we have to make sure that the game is a safe environment for the players yet not lose that physical aspect that we all enjoy about the game. That's the challenge that we have in front of us and we're working with the National Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League and other organizations to determine what's the best direction to go in the future."

Robison adds the WHL will be part of a hockey-wide meeting later this month to review what can be done to minimize incidents of concussions.

"Together with the National Hockey League and, quite frankly, the entire hockey system, we'll be having a meeting later in February to review what we can do both with manufacturers with equipment, what we can with respect to rules of the game to minimize these situations."

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