This policy is not age dependent. All skaters, coaches, officials, and volunteers must be treated in the same manner. Though concussions are common sport injuries, particularly among children and adolescents, their sometimes subtle symptoms may go unnoticed. Without identification and proper management, a concussion can result in permanent or severe brain damage.
Definition: A concussion:
- is a brain injury that causes changes in how the brain functions, leading to symptoms that
- can be physical (e.g., headache, dizziness), cognitive (e.g., difficulty concentrating or remembering), emotional/behavioral (e.g., depression, irritability) and/or related to sleep (e.g., drowsiness, difficulty falling asleep);
- may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that transmits a force to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull;
- can occur even if there has been no loss of consciousness (in fact most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness)
- cannot normally be seen on X-rays, standard CT scans or MRIs.
- can result in symptoms that are evident immediately, or may evolve and persist over the course of hours, days or even months
Initial Response to Suspected Concussion Trauma: Removal from Play
An individual responsible for those who are participating in organized physical activity who believes that, following a blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that transmits a force to the head, a participant in the activity may have suffered a concussion and needs to take immediate action.
- If the participant is unconscious as a result of a trauma occurred during a skating activity:
- Dial 911.
- Do not move the participant.
- Wait for paramedics to arrive.
- If the participant is conscious after the trauma:
- the participant must be immediately removed from the practice (on or off the ice), training, competition, camp, and immediate medical assessment received either on or off site.
- The participant should not be left alone
- Symptoms should be documented and may include:
- Neck pain
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Impaired balance and vision
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering o General confusion
- Depression or irritability; and
- Drowsiness or difficulty falling asleep.
- Coaches are never to make the concussion determination in the field on their own.
- If there is doubt as to whether a concussion has occurred, it is to be assumed that it has occurred.
- The participants parent/guardians will be contacted and they will be required to have the injury properly assessed at a hospital or medical clinic.
Return to Play after a Suspected Concussion
A participant must undergo medical evaluation for diagnosis and guidance to determine the extent of the individual’s injury by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, preferably one who is trained in concussion management.
- If concussion IS NOT diagnosed, the participant may return to the sport.
- If a concussion IS diagnosed, the participant is not allowed to skate until the individual has completed the 6 STEPS TO RETURN TO PLAY and receives written medical clearance to return to programming (on or off ice).
- Return to play guidelines are clearly stated in “Parachute, Preventing Injuries and Saving Lives” www.parachutecanada.org.
- Skate Ontario/Stratford Skating Club and Northern Star Skating Academy Inc. supports “Parachute“ and “Think First Canada” and the training protocols for coaches, volunteers, athletes and parents to educate them on Concussion awareness.
Guidelines to Return to Figure Skating after a Concussion Diagnosis
Suggested guidelines have been adapted to be sport relatable (following the example of other skating federations).
Example of Steps – Each step must take a minimum of one day:
- Step 1: No activity, complete rest. Once back to normal and cleared by a doctor, go to Step 2.
- Step 2: Light exercise such as walking or stationary cycling for 10-15 minutes.
- Step 3: Sport specific aerobic activity- skating for 20-30 minutes. No jarring motions.
- Step 4: Sport specific activity – No jumping, no spinning – No Contact
- Step 5: Resume normal skating activities, having been cleared by a doctor.
Note: If the participant experiences any symptoms during the above activities, the participant must stop the activity immediately and rest until symptoms resolve, for a minimum of 24 hours. The participant should be seen by a doctor and cleared again before starting the step-wise protocol again.
- Step 6: Appendix A: The Return to Play form must be completed by a medical doctor (Found at stratfordskating.ca)
- Considerations/Restrictions with respect to returning to skate must be documented.
- A copy of this form must be given to the primary coach and school administrator/office.
- The document must indicate that the individual is symptom-free and able to return to full participation in physical activity.