Complete Concussion Management and the CWHL
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is committed to protecting the health and safety of our athletes. Although we strive to prevent concussions, the reality is that concussions can happen. As a result, we have partnered with Complete Concussion Management Inc. (CCMI), a Canadian-based international research and evidence-based concussion care organization. From initial pre-season baseline testing to concussion treatment and rehabilitation, CCMI practitioners are trained to collaborate with primary care physicians to co-manage concussions and help athletes safely return to learn, work, and play.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury caused by acceleration or deceleration of the brain following a significant impact to the head or elsewhere on the body. The impact causes biochemical imbalances within brain cells, resulting in decreased blood flow and temporary energy deficits. Symptoms may include loss of consciousness, headache, pressure in the head, neck pain, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, or balance problems, among others.
Baseline concussion testing
Baseline testing is a series of physical and cognitive tests that provide a pre-injury overview of healthy brain function. These tests can offer healthcare practitioners an objective benchmark on which to compare should an athlete sustain a concussion.
As concussion symptoms often disappear days to weeks before the brain has recovered, having valuable baseline information may help healthcare practitioners to make safer return to play decisions.
As part of our partnership with CCMI, all CWHL athletes undergo a CCMI comprehensive baseline test prior to each season. You can find more information about baseline testing here.
Concussion treatment and rehabilitation
During the early stage following injury, a period of relative symptom-limited physical and cognitive rest is recommended. Research suggests 24 to 48 hours; however, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
Following a short period of rest, the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport recommends a gradual increase in mental and physical activity guided by a licensed healthcare practitioner trained in concussion management. If symptoms persist beyond 10 days, exercise therapy, manual therapy of the neck, diet and nutrition changes, and vestibular and visual rehabilitation can be effective treatment options in these cases. Visit Complete Concussion Management’s Find a Clinic page to find a recognized healthcare provider.
Return to Learn, Work, and Play
Standardized concussion treatment and Return to Learn, Work, and Play strategies allow for adequate recovery time, and thereby limiting the risk of further injury.
We require a 10-step process which includes a phased return to cognitive and then physical activity:
Concussion sideline course
CWHL coaches and trainers complete the concussion sideline course, which equips them with an understanding of what a concussion is, how to recognize one, and how to assist in safely managing a concussed athlete back into the classroom and sporting environment.
Coaches and trainers will also receive access to the mobile Concussion Tracker app, allowing them to assess and report suspected concussions to recognized CCMI clinics as well as track recovery status on injured athletes. This allows seamless communication between teams and healthcare practitioners, and ensures a safe return to learn, work, and play.
Why Complete Concussion Management?
Through the CWHL’s partnership with CCMI, athletes now have access to a network of recognized clinics and multi-disciplinary practitioners that provide experienced and standardized concussion care at any location.
Concussion quick facts
- Helmets and mouth guards do not protect or reduce the risk of concussion.
- 90% of concussions do not result in loss of consciousness.
- MRI and other diagnostic scans show structural damage in the brain, and do not identify energy deficits caused by concussion.
- Symptoms of concussion typically go away in 7 – 10 days; however, the actual recovery of the brain can take much longer.