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Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine to Host Ice Hockey Concussion Summit

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine will host “Ice Hockey Summit III: Action on Concussion” Sept. 28-29.

Physicians, scientists, athletic trainers, coaches, officials and retired pro players from the U.S. and Canada will discuss the science of concussion, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and future research. The summit focuses on ice hockey, but concussion-related topics apply to all sports.

The sessions include:

  • “Which Hockey Players are at Greatest Risk and Why?
  • “Can Financial Concerns and Pending Litigation Reduce Concussions in Pro Hockey?”
  • “The Brain’s Response to Concussive Events: Updates on the Neurometabolic Cascade”
  • “Pharmacologic Interventions Available now and on the Horizon”
  • “Fish Oils, Supplements and their Neuroprotective Effects”

“Ultimately, we’re coming together to make the sport safer for our athletes,” says Michael Stuart, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and co-director, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. “Athletes at all levels are bigger, stronger and faster. Therefore, we must improve our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent traumatic brain injury.”

As with the first two summits in 2010 and 2013, participants will develop recommendations to improve the safety of the sport. Panels featuring former hockey players, medical providers and experts with coaching, officiating and athletic training backgrounds will provide ideas for potential solutions.

Past recommendations helped foster rule changes, including penalties for all hits to the head, a delay in body checking until the 14-and-under level and the elimination of dangerous acts, such as checking from behind. After these rule changes, Minnesota Hockey/Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine data showed a significant decline in penalties related to checking from behind.

“To reduce concussions in hockey, we must change the mindset and behavior of players, coaches and fans,” says Aynsley Smith, Ph.D., sport and exercise psychologist and concussion investigator at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. “From a young age, athletes need to learn proper body control and stick play to shift the focus from checking to improving skills. We are making progress, but there is more to do.”

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine is facilitating this conference with support from USA Hockey, International Ice Hockey Federation, Thorne Science, Hockey Equipment Certification Committee, American College of Sports Medicine, the Johansson-Gund Endowment, the Brian Mark Foundation and the Martineau Gift.

Members of the media who want to attend or interview participants should RSVP to the contact below by Thursday, Sept. 21.

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Noted Sports Agent Talks Concussions & the Future

In a recent article, sports agent Leigh Steinberg reflects on today’s concussion issue, both in retrospect and going forward. For some period of time, Steinberg has been alarmed “about the lack of certainty for long term consequences caused by concussions suffered by (his) superstar NFL clients.”

After much research and testing of former athletes, the obvious now stares us in the face—an epidemic is at hand, not just in football but in sports in general. Today’s athlete trains harder, is stronger, and plays faster with unmatched power. As Steinberg states, “the physics of the collision have changed.”

Studies seem to indicate that three or more concussions are a trigger point. Being concussed multiple times “can cause exponentially higher rates of ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, premature senility and dementia, elevated rates of depression and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy.” Steinberg writes that, “An offensive lineman playing in high school, college and the NFL could retire having suffered 10,000 low-level brain events–the aggregate having the same effect on the brain as a small number of dramatic hits.”

In the midst of such devastating consequences, Steinberg has repeatedly asked this question: “Why the same technological innovation which can send a space launch to Mars can’t be employed in protective devices and healing modalities.”

Hope may be on the way as “a group of researchers and technologists are finally addressing the problem.”

At a recent Concussion Awareness Summit in Minneapolis conducted by Brewer Sports and visionary Jack Brewer, the focus was on education and a further commitment to awareness. Since many groups across the country are racing to find a cure for concussion impairment, this Summit gave them the opportunity to compare information.

Steinberg goes on to report that he is “close to announcing a new non-profit foundation to promote awareness and research.” The foundation is to be called “Athlete’s Speak with iconic athletes on the Board backed by…leading neurologists as an advisory committee.”

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