Princeton Youth Hockey Association Concussion Policy
The safety of our players is of the utmost importance and it is the obligation of the members of our organization to ensure their safety whenever and wherever possible. PYHA has developed and will enforce the following protocol with regard to any potential head injury suffered by a PYHA player during a practice or in a game while participating under the auspices of PYHA. This policy involves recognizing potential concussions, determining how to interact with a player who potentially has a concussion, interacting with parents or guardians when informing them that a player has suffered a potential concussion, and ensuring that proper steps are taken so that a player who has been professionally diagnosed with a concussion can be cleared to return to play. A concussion is a serious brain injury that is not necessarily accompanied by a loss of consciousness. Recognition and proper diagnosis of concussions when they first occur is extremely important.
Some signs of a potential concussion from perspective of coach:
Player appears dazed or stunned
Player is confused about position or assignment
Player is slow to respond to questions
Player is unsure of game, score, or opponent
Player can’t recall events prior to hit or after hit
Player loses consciousness
Some symptoms of concussion as reported by athlete:
Headache or “pressure” in head
Nausea or vomiting
Balance problems or dizziness
Double or blurred vision
Sensitivity to light or noise
Concentration or memory problems
Some of these signs may appear immediately after the incident; while others may take several hours or even days to manifest themselves. Careful monitoring and professional diagnosis of the athlete’s medical condition is essential to ensuring player safety.
Action plan for coaches/managers/parents:
If a coach, manager or parent suspects a player might have sustained a blow to the head that could potentially have caused a concussion, that player will be immediately removed from the playing surface and be placed in the care of a parent or guardian. The coach will not be responsible for determining whether or not a player has suffered a concussion. That determination can only be made by a medical professional. It is the responsibility of the coach to inform the player’s parent or guardian as soon as possible of his concern with regard to the player’s health. The coach will also do his or her best to determine the cause and method of injury and observe the player when possible so as to be able to properly inform parents or guardians of their observations in order to provide information if necessary, to medical professionals to assist in their diagnosis of a player’s injury. The coach and team manager will document the injury following established protocol. At no time will a player be allowed back onto the ice if the coach has sufficient reason to believe a player has suffered a potential head injury.
In order to ensure player safety, PYHA will mandate that the player in question refrain from on-ice activity for at least 48 hours following the injury. That time period should be used by the family to assess the player’s health and if the family deems necessary, the opinion of a qualified medical professional should be obtained to determine whether or not the athlete has suffered a concussion. If a qualified medical professional determines that the player has suffered a concussion, the player may not return to the ice in any capacity until he/she has been cleared in writing by that medical professional and documentation to that effect has been received by the PYHA hockey director. If after 48 hours, the family determines the player is uninjured, they must notify the hockey director of PYHA and get permission from the hockey director for the player to return to on-ice activities. At that time the hockey director will notify the head coach that the player may resume on-ice activities.
PYHA has taken steps to educate their coaches in recognizing signs and symptoms of potential concussions. Families can also take advantage of information available online from USA Hockey as well as The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Families might also want to consider baseline testing, which is a pre-season exam conducted by a trained health professional, and is used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function. Results from these tests given when an athlete is symptom free from concussion can be used and compared to a similar test taken in season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.