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Monday, 16 January 2012

Concussion overview...Are there similarities between sports?

 This Hockey season have had its share there have been some interesting things to consider. There is a pandemic of concussions flooding the league and its players. this is similar to the 2001 Nascar pandemic of deaths related to the sport and it's dynamics. let me explain..
  in 2000, 2001 in Nascar, Dale Earnheardt among 4 other drivers all died from crashes on race tracks. now, your reading this saying, 'Rya, where are you going with this, and how does it relate to hokcey?" hang in there!
  after Dales death, engineers, doctors, owners and drivers all agreed that the sport had changed. the frames of the race cars had become increasingly firmer, meaning that cars could now reach higher speeds and crews could make adjustments easier. the drivers and tracks were the same, but this increase in speeds made the sport more dangerous. thus leading to death and a plague of injuries. immovable forces (concrete walls) were meeting irresistable cars that were extra firm, do the math/1 the energy from an impact used to be absorbed in the bending of the floppy frame. However, now that energy was being transfered through the driver of the car, thus causing catastrophic injuries, concussions and death.
  now, this year in hockey more than any other, we are seeing a pandemic of concussions whereby causing players to retire early or leave them with permanent brain damage. I love hockey, I even play a bit myself on the weekends in a "weekend warrior" league. however, given my knowledge and experience accompanied by what I know of race cars, biomechanics and physics, I am going to make a startling educative assumption. Hockey, like Nascar, has become faster. the game has changed, just like Nascar changed. the problem is that superstars like Dale Earnheardt and Sidney Crosby have to become victims of the harsh realtieis of change before the league, its players and the fans accept adequetn, essential changes. 
skates are now built super light and more aerodynamic allowing for you to be faster on the ice. Elbow pads and shoulder pads are also more aerodynamic and rigid allowing for more explosive movement and speeds. even hockey helmets are built really rigid and aerodynamic. Sure, when your 12, who cares? but what about when you are an NHL player? if you go sledding down a hill, you may not need a helmet, but when you drive a Nascar race car it is a different story. When you play pick up hockey, you sometimes do not condone hitting. However, when you are a professional player that is an essential and necessary part of the game. every Championship team has had its share of enforcers and guys that can throw their weight around respectively. 
The problem is that again, the gear has changed. it has sped up the game and with this light-weight, rigid gear all of the energy from hitting the boards, another player or the goalpost has to go somewhere. logically, given my background in Physiology I am going to assume that excess energy is rattling the brains of players. our brains ly within a brain cavity when surraounds the brain in fluid so it can "float" within that space within our skull. all that energy from faster speeds and harder gear is allowing that organ (our brain) to shift and move abruptly within its cavity. makes sense right? Its the most logical answer I can surmise. 
so, the game needs to change. whether it is to slow down our athletes, increase the ice surface area or to come out with new helmets, the NHL is obligated to change with the times. sport is dynaimc and Nascar race cars are a prime example of that. Now, I am not saying "dont play hockey". All I am saying is that you may want to play with extra caution and enroll your children in hockey with caution and further educate yourselves as parents and players on the perceived dangers with such a dynamic sport. Changes will be coming shortly within the league and will trickle down to rural leagues all over the world and I am sure that in 5 years, hockey of 2011-2012 will feel like a game that was played 20years ago. improvements will come, just as history repeats itself. 

Thank you for reading:)

Ryan Fahey
B.A Human Kinetics
CPTN Canada
canfitpro Fitness Instructor

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