Hockey Concussions Take Longer to Heal After First InjuryApr 22nd, 2011 | By Kim Harrison | Category: Health
Each concussion a professional hockey player suffers takes longer to heal than the previous one, reported a study published in the April 19, 2011 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study’s findings could have implications for players in other contact sports where concussions are common, such as football, boxing, and professional wrestling.
The research team conducting the study drew data from a program launched in 1997 by the National Hockey League (NHL) and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) to improve understanding of concussions. Researchers analyzed all 559 concussions reported over seven NHL seasons from 1997 to 2004. The analysis considered initial post-concussions signs, symptoms, physical examination findings, and how much time was lost before players were able to return to play. Researchers aimed to determine whether initial post-concussion clinical manifestations could be used to predict how much recovery time would be lost before players could return to play.
The 559 concussions reported from 1997 to 2004 amounted to an average of about 80 per season. The average rate of concussion was 1.8 concussions per 1000 player-hours.
First-time concussions required an average of six days of recovery before players could return to play. Subsequent concussions added about one extra day of recovery per concussion. Four players who suffered their fifth concussions needed 12 to 106 days to recover. In about one-third of cases, a player missed more than 10 days of play.
The most common post-concussion symptom was headache. The study found that the amount of playing time lost was associated with post-concussion headache, low energy or fatigue, amnesia, and abnormal neurologic examination. These symptoms were the most significant predictors of how much recovery time would be needed before a player could return to the ice.