BCHL turning to app to help detect concussions in young players

Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2017


The British Columbia Hockey League will be employing a new app this season to help detect concussions in players.

The 16-to-20-year-old players on the Junior A hockey league’s 17 teams will take baseline tests before the start of the 2017-18 season that will be managed with the HeadCheck app, designed by a group of UBC kinesiology PhD students.

Whenever a player is suspected of having a concussion, the team’s medical staff can instantly compare their current status with earlier baseline tests.

“When the players are undergoing a baseline test, it’s all stored, it’s all accessible, it’s all up to date,” BCHL commissioner John Grisdale told Radio West host Alya Ramadan.

“If he doesn’t have any signs or symptoms [of a concussion] that will be verified … through the comparison with the baseline.

“If he does, then the [trainer] can inform the coach that’s he’s going to be placed under the Hockey Canada return to play protocol and into the doctor and medical care.”

Grisdale says what’s unique about the HeadCheck app is it stores the baseline tests for players, officials, coaching staff and even parents to see.

It also allows them to see when a player has been tested for concussions, which he says will help families have input about when their son plays again.

He also says it will help keep team officials accountable should they be tempted to rush a player back into the game before he’s ready.

“All of our teams are supposed to be doing baseline testing, … but a lot of players come and go in any league, so you’re not always sure if this is being done. Now we will know,” he said.

“If, as a parent, I was able to go into my son’s record … and saw that he had a baseline and two situations and showed concerns over another test then I would have a say on if my son was playing again and how quickly.”

Grisdale says the BCHL is also increasing penalties for players who “play on the edge” and cause opponents to suffer concussions.