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Brain injuries: Damage still evident 3 months after concussion

Although youth hockey leagues have established measures to prevent hockey players from returning to the ice too soon after concussions, ongoing research into sports-related brain injuries indicates that existing protocols may not provide enough protection. Doctors at Western University in Ontario say they studied detailed images of the brains of 15-year-old hockey players who had suffered concussions. What they found showed that players were cleared to play while they were still experiencing aftereffects of the brain injuries.

One of the researchers says the average time the examined players were kept off the ice after their concussions was 23 days. However, the scans that were done after three months still showed damage to the white matter that form links between the different sections of the brain. By this time, the players no longer exhibited outward symptoms of brain injuries.

These conclusions were reached after comparing the scans to those of a control group who had never suffered concussions. The doctors said it is not clear yet whether this premature return to the ice will have long-term consequences. Will this make them more susceptible to brain injuries going forward, and will the healing process take longer?

One aspect that is a cause for concern was that the parents of the highest level hockey players were unwilling to have their children take part in the study. They seemed to fear to jeopardize their children's chances of getting into the NHL if their concussions were recorded. Ultimately, lower level players were used for the research. Parents in Ontario who are concerned about the safety of their children while they participate in hockey games may have questions about liability. An experienced personal injury lawyer who frequently deals with cases involving brain injuries can provide the answers.

Source: cbc.ca, "Do concussion protocols in youth hockey go far enough?", Jamie Strashin, March 22, 2018

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