THE 2008 SAFE HOCKEY SUMMIT: A RESPONSE TO RISING ISSUE OF NEUROTRAUMA IN HOCKEY
Bob McKenzie does his keynote presentation
A culmination of over 50 of some of the greatest minds in the sports and medical communities from across North America came together for the 2008 Safe Hockey Summit on June 11, 2008. The group gathered at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto How do we prevent concussions and spinal injuries in hockey? to discuss one issue:
The goal of this event was not only to discuss the summit themes, but to begin to create realistic solutions to improve safety in the game, with a special focus on minor hockey. Hosts of the event, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF), the Canadian Spinal Research Organization (CSRO) and ThinkFirst Canada were joined by organizations such as the NHL, Hockey Canada, Hockey USA and the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF).
Attendees were officially welcomed to the event by Ontario Minister of Health Promotion, Margarett Best and CSRO Chairman and summit Co-Chair, Barry Munro. A highlight of the summit was the chance for each of the attendees to share their knowledge and experiences during the small group discussions. Delegates were reminded that the key to the event’s success would be the free exchange of ideas amongst all participants.
Presenter, Todd Jackson, Hockey Canada Risk Manager
Presenters including summit Co-Chair and founder of ThinkFirst Canada, Dr. Charles Tator, Todd Jackson of Hockey Canada and Dr. Robert Cantu, Director of Sports Medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts, addressed topics surrounding the summit themes: The Science Surrounding Neurotrauma in Hockey, The State of the Game, Existing Programs for Injury Prevention.
NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, as well as Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the NHL, Jim Gregory, were amongst the honoured guests and represented the concern from the highest level of the game to create a safer brand of hockey.
The summit also served as an official launch of the CSRO’s youth injury prevention program, Play It Cool™. One common thread that emerged from group discussion was that an online program like Play It Cool™ is key to the prevention and proper management of neurotraumatic injuries in hockey. Summit delegates agreed that access is needed for parents, coaches and kids to a central online destination like www.playitcoolhockey.com that can provide information from several existing injury prevention programs. Play It Cool™ is a skill enhancement program of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization’s Shoot For A Cure campaign, which aims to reduce the incidence of neurotrauma (concussion and spine) injuries in hockey. The Play It Cool™ website is a an online platform uniting hockey programs from across North America to ultimately promote a safer more effective game of hockey. This combined approach teaches coaches, parents and kids that skill enhancement and education is the key to injury prevention.
While much was learned from the information presented, the personal stories shared by former professional hockey player, Mark Moore, Toronto Maple Leaf alumnus, Ron Ellis and TSN Analyst Bob McKenzie were equally as poignant.
Mark Moore discussed how a concussion he sustained from a hit during a game ended his career a few years ago. Moore is still suffering from post-concussion syndrome, “I had to take a few breaks during my 10 minute walk from my residence to the HHOF this morning, just to avoid feeling sick,” he commented.
Ron Ellis described taking a fall in the 1972 Summit Series, and the fear he experienced when he thought he had broken his neck, as he was initially unable to move his legs.
Summit Co Chair, Dr. Charles Tator and presenter, Dr. Robert Cantu
Stepping outside of his media role, Bob Mckenzie provided a keynote luncheon address about his experiences as a parent of two teenage boys, one of whom has suffered such major concussions that he is no longer able to play any contact sports.
Offering yet another viewpoint, Lois Kalchman and Randy Starkman of the Toronto Star and Andi Petrillo of Leafs TV provided an interactive discussion on the role of that the media plays in injury prevention.
Co-Chair of the summit, Dr. Charles Tator, was happy to see the event come together. "We accomplished a great deal at the hockey summit, and now know that we need to develop a more comprehensive strategy to deal with prevention of injuries, “comments Dr. Tator.
Several recommendations were made to make the summit an annual event in order to have the opportunity to reach grassroots hockey in Canada and activate effective prevention strategies and solutions. In order to increase the potential for success, there may be a need to focus the summit on one key area/issue in order to yield the most opportunity for change.
With such a successful inaugural event, several attendees suggested hosting the next Safe Hockey Summit in June of 2009, with a widened scope to solicit participation from across Canada and to ultimately involve a greater number of key stakeholders.
(from l to r) Kerry Goulet, Director of Hockey Operations for SFAC, Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner, Barry Munro, Bob Mckenzie, TSN Analyst & Jim Gregory, Senior VP, NHL