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Researchers developing new, easier test for concussions in hockey players

Tim Tucker   ·   26 février 2020
Hockey is a fast, heavy game and no matter how many precautions one takes, there's always an inherent danger when a player steps on the ice. One of the latest changes in the NHL has been the introduction of a "balance test" to ensure players who may have suffered a concussion in a game are safe to come back. Now, researchers at McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal say they've developed a new type of balance test that will make it easier and faster for players going through the league's protocol.

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One of the issues with the current balance test is that players need to take off all of their equipment before going through it. This makes many reluctant to take the testing and some may even choose to hide symptoms so they don't miss too much action. The MUHC researchers say the new test they've developed. called the In-Skates Balance Error Scoring System (SBESS), can be performed on a player wearing everything but their gloves and helmet. It can also be done on the hard black rubber that covers the halls and locker rooms of most hockey arenas.

“Currently, the balance assessment is one of the most important physical exams after a possible concussion, and the most likely to pick up abnormalities, but it has to be done barefoot in shorts and a T-shirt," said Dr. J. Scott Delaney, of the MUHC's department of emergency medicine, who led the research team that developed the SBESS. "It’s not adapted to the reality of hockey players."

Researchers tested 80 female and male hockey players at McGill University and Concordia University for a study that was recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sport and Medicine.

Delaney, who is also the doctor for the Montreal Impact, Montreal Alouettes, McGill University football team and McGill men’s and women’s soccer teams (as well as Cirque du Soleil) calls the new research "an important step" towards managing brain injuries in hockey players, and more research is underway to establish the SBESS as a valid diagnostic tool. It may still take a few years before the new test is implemented in the NHL but we're certain many players, coaches and fans will appreciate the effort should it pan out.

Source: CTV Montreal
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