Healthy Living in the North

Prince George Cougars trainer talks concussions

Canada's game - a risky one.

Canada’s game – a game that sees many headlines for its dangers.

The overarching theme of my youth was sports: I played baseball, hockey, tennis, volleyball, basketball and golf. Those activities were accompanied by a lot of great friends, a competitiveness that helps me succeed to this day, and, unfortunately, injuries. There are a couple injuries that stand out more than others, but the one that always comes to mind when I think about my injuries is the first time I was concussed.

I was playing midget hockey in Port Moody, where I grew up. As I tried to fish the puck out from between my skates, a taller player skated past me, landing a hefty elbow to my jaw. Despite the fact that I was wearing a cage, I dropped. This happened around 1997, when the mentality of head injuries was changing from “you just got your bell rung” to the concussion culture we know today. I vividly recall opening my eyes, seeing green spots and thinking to myself, “Oh, so this is a concussion.” Luckily for me, it wasn’t significant and the recovery time was only a week.

Today, most people have either had a concussion or have seen a highlight of someone who’s suffered one. For instance, Sidney Crosby getting blindsided in the Winter Classic was played over and over again as his highly anticipated return from the resulting concussion drew near. Because sport and concussion is so closely linked, I spoke with Ramandeep “Chico” Dhanjal, Head Trainer with the Prince George Cougars, to discuss concussions and Canada’s game.

Chico, are they any exercises a person can do to limit their chances of suffering a concussion?

There are no exercises that can prevent you from getting a concussion.

What hockey-related suggestions would you give a person to help avoid concussions?

Be aware of your setting and know where you are on the ice – are you close to the boards or in open ice? Also, make sure that you are properly fitted with equipment like helmets and mouth guards.

What tests do you do to determine if a player is concussed?                                       

A player must do a baseline online concussion test every year at the beginning of the season. If a player is hurt during a game or practice we use the new sport concussion testing called the SCAT3. If a player shows any symptoms of having a concussion that are revealed on the test then he is subject to rest until symptom free.

Are you noticing a changing culture in hockey around playing with a concussion?

There is certainly a change. The game has changed so much; players are getting bigger, faster, and stronger. But we are also seeing symptoms sooner and faster. Players are getting smarter now in recognizing that if they are not feeling like their normal self and have symptoms to let someone know sooner than later.

What risks does a player subject themselves to by playing with a concussion?

The major risk of playing with a concussion is having yourself injured for a longer period of time. A concussion can slow down your reaction time, thinking and awareness of your surroundings on the ice, putting yourself at danger and risk of further injuring yourself. Also, your recovery time can be increased by playing with a concussion and you will be out for a longer period of time.

For more information on concussions, please visit Northern Health’s concussion page.

You can also find more hockey-related concussion information at Hockey Canada.

And don’t forget to show us how you’re preventing concussions by entering our Falls Across the Ages page (Editor’s note: the contest is now closed).


Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.