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Study finds there is “significant underreporting” of concussions in hockey

Sidney Crosby

FILE - This Jan. 5, 2011, file photo shows Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of an NHL hockey game, in Pittsburgh. Crosby’s agent said there’s no timetable for the Penguins star to return from a concussion, the clearest indication yet that he may not be ready when the NHL season begins in October. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)


A year-long report released on Friday that centered around men’s and women’s college hockey teams in Canada and the United States says coaches would rather have players with possible head injuries to keep playing rather than get them out of the game and checked out.

Alan Maki of The Globe And Mail hears from the lead scientist on the study, Dr. Paul Echlin, about the results they’ve seen through testing Canadian university players.

“We did a previous study [one year ago] with the CIS without observers,” Echlin said. “We didn’t do MRI imaging and there was only one reported concussion for that season. This past season, we were full on with multiple physicians at games, home and away, and we did imaging. It really demonstrates the underreporting of medical concussions.”

We’ve seen it happen numerous times in the past where a player gets hit hard and appears to suffer issues with staying cognizant only to continue playing in the game. While the NHL has new concussion protocols, the study finds coaches at lower levels aren’t taking the same kind of care.

One coach quoted in Jeff Z. Klein’s piece on this for the New York Times saying, “Unless something is broken, I want them back out playing.”

If this kind of thinking is going to change to help players stay healthy, it’s going to take a lot of change to how people perceive concussions.