In the past two years, a number of minor hockey organizations across Ontario have implemented baseline concussion testing. The latest to join the ranks is the Greater Toronto Hockey League and Oakville Minor Hockey. History has proven our players are not immune to these injuries and face the same risks.
Some centres, like Oakville Minor Hockey, have chosen to an internet based program called ImPACT or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. This testing was developed in the early 1990’s and is a computerized evaluation that may assist your family practitioner in determining the player’s readiness to return to play.
This test is performed on the internet from your home and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. The cost is $25.00 and the test can be completed while the player is unsupervised. If your child sustains a head injury they can retest and determine if there is a noted decline in recollection. The original test results are maintained for one year and you can retest at anytime.
We reviewed this program at length and determined that this system certainly does provide an increased level of protection, but does not provide the best possible level of protection. The Greater Toronto Hockey League has chosen SHIFT Concussion Management, a far more comprehensive program to protect their players. We too believe this is the better program. SHIFT provides information and training packages for parents and bench staff alike. They will host training sessions for our Trainers and are also involved in the training of medical staff in local clinics.
The SHIFT Concussion Management Program was developed in cooperation with the Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau and stopconcussions.com. They are also supported by “Head Strong” Brain Injury Awareness which is widely supported throughout the Ontario Hockey League and the National Hockey League.
SHIFT Performance Training and Athletic Rehabilitation Clinic is a unique fitness and injury management centre. A one stop shop for sports injury recognition and recovery management. The owner Scott Haller is an Osteopath who has assembled a team that includes in house Chiropractor Care, Physical Therapists, Massage Therapist, Physiotherapist and Athletic Therapist. Their team also includes performance coaches and trainers who routinely work with players from the NHL, AHL, CFL, AFL and the NLL.
How it Works
The SHIFT Concussion Management Program takes approximately one hour to complete and includes three levels of pre-season testing:
- A supervised assessment of cognitive function, or in short ImPACT.
- Hand eye coordination and balance testing
- Strength and endurance testing.
If you child sustains a head injury they can attend SHIFT for retesting. It is the recommendation and opinion of the EHMHA that this method of testing is the best possible way to recognize and treat a concussion. It can be very difficult for any doctor to diagnose a concussion without some sort of baseline testing.
SHIFT will provide you with a documented comparison of your child’s results compared to their initial pre-season testing. If the results indicate your child has not sustained a brain injury; that documentation can be provided to your medical practitioner who can use those results coupled with their own observations to clear your child to return to play. If their testing indicates your child has sustained a brain injury, they will work with you to develop a plan for managing the injury and assisting in the recovery. Each step is documented and your child will not graduate to the next level of treatment until they have completed each step in the program. SHIFT will document your child’s treatment plan and will provide your family physician with updates throughout the process. Once the recovery steps have been completed they will again provide you with the documentation for your family physician to assess your child’s condition and authorize return to play.
The Cost and EHMHA Subsidy
The cost of this program is $50.00 per player, per season. The results of SHIFT testing are maintained so yearly comparisons are easily completed. In short, if your child sustains a head injury in the off season, SHIFT will identify that potential problem and likely avoid prolonged recovery issues.
Studies indicate Baseline Testing has little value in children less than 10 years of age given the constant change in brain development. These players are also not exposed to contact hockey at this level. The EHMHA will fund one half of the cost per team, for any PeeWee, Bantam or Midget team that voluntarily participates in the SHIFT Program. In order to qualify for this funding the entire team must participate in the program.
Note that any additional testing or treatment from SHIFT is not covered by EHMHA. The cost of a second assessment after a head injury would be approximately $60.
Our commitment is to provide a safe environment for your child to play hockey. We know that a proper helmet and mouth guard can significantly reduce the chance of a serious head injury; however we also recognize that if your child does sustain an injury, early detection and treatment will reduce the chance of permanent damage and minimize recovery times. We are committed to safety.