Head injuries, and concussions in particular are a constant concern for Athletes, Parents and Coaches.

Okotoks Oilers Athletic Therapist Mike Elchuk, says the medical treatment surrounding concussions has come a long way.

"20 years ago, I believe, that concussions were misdiagnosed, under diagnosed, and through education and a lot of different studies, there's been a lot of change in the recognition and treatment of concussions," he said.

Elchuk, says due to the increased education and awareness, the treatment for head injuries has changed significantly, and it shows in the statistics.

"The approach to them is different, we're not rushing kids back into play. After any hit, we'll give them a verbal test to see what their cognition is. There's a lot more education to it, the recognition is greater, so the numbers are increasing," he said.

Concussion symptoms can include dizziness, loss of balance, headaches, nausea, and loss of emotional control that can last anywhere from days, weeks, months or even years.

Elchuk says anyone who has sustained a head injury, regardless of how minor, should seek immediate treatment from medical professionals.

He says beyond the basic treatments at the time of the injury, they can't do what the concussion clinics can in terms of follow-up treatments and diagnostics.

"There are vision tests that are done on the computers, and high tech things that we don't have in the AJHL hockey rinks. We can do the basics, but these clinics that are popping up everywhere are, actually, really technologically advanced. I suggest that to anybody in youth activity, to take advantage of that if you have it in your community," said Elchuk.

Specialized clinics have been developed to offer computerized assessments, which examine the brain after injury as a diagnostic tool for concussions, or other head related injuries.

According to the Foothills Concussion and Rehabilitation Centre, children are often misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD when suffering from post-concussion syndrome.

Without treatment, 90 per cent of married people who sustain a concussion in motor vehicle accident are divorced within five years, and 45 per cent of homeless individuals have suffered concussions, with 87 per cent of those owning their homes before their injury.


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