BC Hockey has embraced a technology to keep track of a player’s history of concussions as they move from team to team through the years.
The provincial governing body which also oversees amateur hockey in the Yukon announced last week it has partnered with HeadCheck Health to begin expanding the use of the technology.
HeadCheck CEO Harrison Brown says documenting concussions and maintaining records so that they’re easily available to authorized personnel with different clubs is already used extensively across the country, and not just for hockey.
In B.C., he points out in an interview last week, football and rugby leagues are using it.
It’s all about the safety of players, ensuring their health care is given a top priority, he says.
Brown says he expects that in the next five years, it will be entrenched everywhere, from minor hockey right on up to Major Junior A.
CEO Barry Petrachenko of BC Hockey agrees.
“From a player safety standpoint, this type of technology is huge because it just helps us determine when it is safe to play.”
Petrachenko says BC Hockey will be implementing the HeadCheck system this coming season for all its Junior A, Junior B and Major Midget programs.
Like Brown, he sees HeadCheck quickly expanding down in the minor hockey associations through the province and the Yukon.
Why wouldn’t associations embrace it, he says of the obvious benefit.
Petrachenko says Hockey Canada already mandates that all leagues across the country have in place concussion policies and protocols.
Minor hockey rests on the shoulders of volunteers who have the best of intentions, he says.
Petrachenko says keeping track of and checking the concussion history of players can be onerous, sometimes too onerous to ensure a thorough search.
With a system like the one developed by HeadCheck Health, there will be no more days of having to call four different doctors in and four different towns to get the complete picture, he says.
And the more leagues across the province and territory who buy into the program, the more the cost will come down while the safety of individual players rises, he says.
Petrachenko says it’s a perfect fit for the Yukon, particularly with the number of players who travel south to play at higher levels as their careers progress.
The CEO of HeadCheck emphasizes they are not looking to change what teams do now. They are looking to provide another tool that will help clubs manage their concussion histories, to make its easier to keep track of them, he says.
Harrison says they meet with the teams and leagues to assist in adopting the system.
They provide the necessary guidance to implement it, which includes baseline assessments of all players, he says.
“What we are doing is we are making it really, really simple to collect and document the information.”
Harrison emphasizes not everybody has access to the information. It’s not normally the coaches who see a player’s file. Access to the information is generally restricted to the training, medical or
therapeutic staff, he says.
Harrison says its not a tool teams can use to check if a player has a history of concussions before drafting him, or to assess potential risks of selecting one player over another.
Privacy requirements are high among team staff, and certainly teams would not have access to player files from other teams, he says.
Carl Burgess, a local coach and past president of Hockey Yukon, explains in an interview last week the Yukon Rivermen minor program has already partnered with PhysioPlus to solidify it’s concussion
Thane Phillips and his staff conducted base line studies for all players in the Rivermen program last year and it will be the same this year for the U-16 minor midget Rivermen and the U-15 Rivermen bantam club, he says.
Burgess said staff from PhysioPlus were at every home game with their gear last year.
Any Yukon players who’ll be in B.C. on Major Midget clubs this year will benefit from the HeadCheck system, he points out, noting there were six players from here playing major midget hockey in B.C. last season.