Hockey Canada has launched a new smartphone app aimed at reducing brain injuries in the sport.
Available in both English and French, and with versions for adults and kids, the app includes medically approved information on everything from concussion symptoms to return-to-play protocol.
"You can have your phone on the bench, it's that close," said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson. "It's right in the [coach or trainer's] hands."
In development for more than a year, the app is available for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android and can be downloaded for free from Hockey Canada's website, BlackBerry's App World, iTunes or the Google Play Store.
'We're hopeful that coaches will have it on the bench and players will watch it in dressing rooms.' — Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson on its new smartphone app
The app was a joint project with the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Sport, the Coaching Association of Canada and ThinkFirst Pensez d'Abord Canada. It was funded by a $1.5-million grant from the federal government.
One of the benefits of the app is that Hockey Canada has the ability to update it immediately with any new advances made in the industry. Nicholson was also touting it as a resource for not only coaches and parents, but young players as well.
"There are two different targets here," he said. "We're hopeful that coaches will have it on the bench and players will watch it in dressing rooms. With that, we're really trying to make sure that we get to everyone involved in the game in Canada."
The app was launched with an endorsement from Sidney Crosby, who missed significant chunks of the last two NHL seasons because of concussion-related symptoms. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain said he admires Hockey Canada's "commitment to educating families and players about all aspects of the game."
Nicholson recently became a vice-president with the International Ice Hockey Federation's executive council and believes the app has the potential to be useful around the world.
Hockey Canada doesn't have specific numbers on the amount of youth hockey players that suffer concussions each year.
"We just know that it is happening a lot," said Nicholson.
"Hopefully, this [app] is going to spread not just in Canada, but throughout the world," he added.