10:24am Friday 21 February 2020

Mayo Clinic Extends Baseline Concussion Testing Initiative to Arizona's Youth Hockey Players

In early June, Mayo Clinic announced that it would provide baseline concussion testing to all high school athletes in Arizona at no cost. Now, all youth athletes in the Arizona High School Hockey Association and Desert Youth Hockey Association prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season will receive complimentary baseline concussion testing.

Arizona’s hockey community welcomes the move.

“On behalf of the Phoenix Coyotes, I would like to thank Mayo Clinic for making baseline concussion testing available to all high school and university student hockey athletes in Arizona,” said Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney. “Their research and testing will provide invaluable information that will help us understand more about sports-related brain injuries and create awareness about the importance of protecting athletes from returning to play prematurely and risking further brain injury.”

Jon Brooks, President of AHSHA, remarked, “We are pleased to work with Mayo Clinic to establish a concussion awareness program for our association. As a result, we have mandated baseline concussion testing for all our Junior Varsity and Varsity players. We want to thank Mayo Clinic for providing the complimentary baseline concussion testing to our players, which will support our efforts to effectively manage player concussions.”

Sean Whyte, Director of Hockey Operations & Coach in Chief of the DYHA, said, “Ice hockey is a very physical sport with athletes reaching speeds over 20 mph. Over the years we have taken the appropriate steps in helping players be more protected through developing better equipment and enforcing rules that eliminate situations for someone to be injured. With all that has been done, players still end up getting hurt and receiving concussions. DYHA is very proud to team up with Mayo Clinic in a program that will be able to determine when a player is ready to return to the ice after suffering a concussion. Athletes who compete before they are ready are much more susceptible to experience another concussion, and over time, ultimately have to quit the sport. In working with Mayo Clinic, we are setting the standard in the safety of these children in hopes they can continue playing hockey and reach their potential.”

The potential for serious long-term effects from concussion has caused concern and prompted the passing of legislation in Arizona — Senate Bill 1521. The new law prohibits an athlete who has had a concussion from returning to play until cleared by a licensed health care provider. The particular vulnerability of the brain to concussion at young ages also highlights the need for accurate diagnosis and proper care for youth and adolescent athletes.

After a concussion, if an athlete continues to play or returns to play too early, they are at risk of experiencing another concussion that may take longer to resolve, and with repeated concussions, there is a risk of permanent neurological damage, or rarely, death,” said Bert Vargas, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “There is inherent risk for concussion in all sports, and baseline testing is one of many important tools to help address the safety of athletes at all levels.”

Baseline concussion testing measures how the brain is working before injury, and has recently been recommended by the Arizona Interscholastic Association for all scholastic athletes. The Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool will be available at no cost to the athlete. The test can be taken from any computer with Internet access, takes 8-15 minutes to complete and the athlete or parent can share the results with health care providers of their choice. After a concussion, the test can be repeated multiple times, and doctors can then monitor the results of this test, along with a medical evaluation, to determine when athletes can safely resume normal activities — and in the case of a student athlete, when they can return to their sport.

“The diagnosis of concussion may be difficult, and knowing when recovery is complete, can be even more difficult,” said David Dodick, M.D., Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and President of the American Headache Society. “Routine brain imaging is usually normal, and abnormalities on physical examination are subtle or absent. Even when the athlete is no longer reporting symptoms, the brain may not be fully recovered. Having baseline and after-injury concussion tests provides the health care provider with an objective and quantifiable measure to determine when brain function has returned to baseline after a concussion, making it an important tool in making return-to-school and return-to-play decisions.”

“Building on the generosity of Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the J. Theodore Curtis Karalis Fund, we are pleased to extend our baseline concussion testing initiative to hockey players in the desert youth hockey league and Arizona High School Hockey Association,” Dr. Dodick said. “This is the next step in assuring that brain health becomes a focus and part of the routine health evaluation for all students across the state.”

For more information or to obtain access to take the computerized concussion test, student athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers and school athletic directors in Arizona can email concussion@mayo.edu or visit online.

Additionally, Mayo Clinic recently published recommendations from its ‘Ice Hockey Summit: Action on Concussion,’ where top scientists, trainers, coaches, officials, and equipment manufacturers from around the world gathered to discuss concussion-related issues, to reduce concussions in hockey.


About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life.

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