Hockey is a fast paced sport that requires a unique set of skills, and due to these factors, injuries can sometimes occur. As a leader in your association, there are many ways to reduce the impact of an injury, including a focus on respect, skill development, understanding injury management, and supporting the appropriate Return to Play method. This month’s newsletter will focus on how to navigate through injuries in the game.
There are a number of ways to prevent injuries, but the main thing to instill in your players is respect – respect for the players, respect for the officials, and respect for the rules. As a team safety person, trainer, and/or coach, the example you set will go a long way in the prevention of an injury. Another important aspect in the prevention of injuries is focusing on appropriate skill development and behaviours. Coaches should ensure that their players are learning the foundational skills of the game such as skating, positioning/angling, stick responsibility, and contact confidence. These behaviours transfer to off ice activities as well, such as proper training and stretching. Finally, ensuring that equipment is appropriately fitted and used properly is key in injury prevention. Hockey Alberta’s Concussion page provides more information on how to prevent injuries, and while it is concussion focused, the same principles can be applied to general injury prevention.
Information on injury prevention can be found under the “Prevention” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Concussion Page >
Information on appropriate skill development can be found under the “Development” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Coach Resource Page >
Information on stretching, warm up, cool down and equipment fitting can be found under the “Health and Safety” banner on Hockey Alberta’s Parent Page >
When an Injury Occurs
While we strive to prevent injuries in the game as much as possible, unfortunately they will sometimes occur. Knowing how to manage an injury situation is one of the most important roles of the team safety person or trainer. When an injury occurs, the team safety person or trainer needs to determine the right course of action in a quick time frame. Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada have created resources to help assist in managing the situation, including a flow chart showing how to assess managing an injury, the emergency action plan, and injury specific information, such as the concussion recognition tool.
Information on injury management, including the injury assessment flow chart, can be found under the “Injury Management” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Team Safety Person Page >
Information of the Concussion Recognition Tool can be found under the “Recognize” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Concussion Page >
Information on the Emergency Action Plan can be found under the “Emergency Action Plan” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Team Safety Person Page >
Returning to Play
Getting an athlete back on the ice is an important part of injury management, however it must be done properly to minimize the long term effects of an injury. Conflicts often arise between the athlete, parents, and/or coaches wishes and the best interests of the athlete, but following the proper return to play protocols can help the team safety person or trainer with this struggle. While there are many types of injuries that can occur in a game, some of the key principles in returning to play are universal. It is a gradual progression that starts with daily activities and ends when the athlete is completely comfortable participating in the game without any signs, symptoms, or pain. Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta have created resources to help assist in a successful Return to Play, including the steps from returning from a concussion, which can be applied to other significant injuries, Return to Play forms to help in managing the steps, and videos explaining the process.
Information on returning from a concussion can be found under the “Return to Play” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Concussion Page >
Information on the general return to play process can be found under the “Injury Management” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Team Safety Person Page >
One expectation that is often missed when there is an injury is the submission of a completed Hockey Canada Injury Report form. It is often believed that the only time this form should be filled out is if the person is accessing the Hockey Canada Insurance Program, however this assumption is incorrect. This form is important because it provides documentation that an event has occurred, which helps if long term consequences appear, and provides valuable information to both Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada on injury trends, which helps provide direction on safety decisions. Some common areas that are missed when completing this form include: health insurance information, team information, and the signed release of medical information.
The Hockey Canada Injury Report form and injury reporting log can be found under the “Injury Management” tab on Hockey Alberta’s Team Safety Person Page >
Hockey Canada Insurance Program
Hockey Canada created the Hockey Canada Insurance Program to help ensure that adequate financial resources are in place should an injury occur during a sanctioned event. As a registered player, team official, or on ice official, you are able to access coverage through this program, including medical and dental. Hockey Alberta has created an insurance handout to highlight the program, the coverage available, and the process for submitting a claim.
Information on the Hockey Canada Insurance Program can be found under the “Insurance” button on the Hockey Alberta Safety Management Page >
Hockey Alberta’s Insurance Overview Handout can be found under the “Insurance Forms” link on the Insurance Information Page >