Saskatoon-based chiropractor works with minor hockey team for concussion recovery

Mike McMenamin is using a concussion management program, which he first looked into last fall, and it's more than a theory–he's applying it to a minor hockey team.

Mike McMenamin using program based on research out of Toronto

Dr. Mike McMenamin, left, is using a new concussion management program for athletes. Lisa Dyer, right, is a mom whose teenage son would have benefited from the program, she said. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

A Saskatoon chiropractor is shaking up how coaches and athletes deal with concussions.

Mike McMenamin is using a concussion management program, which he first looked into last fall, and it's more than a theory–he's applying it to a local minor hockey team.

The goal is to get past how concussions have been handled in the past.

The biggest mistake would be that people tend to rely too much on their symptoms.- Mike McMenamin

"The biggest mistake would be that people tend to rely too much on their symptoms, rather than what is going on below the level that we can see," McMenamin said while talking with Saskatoon Morning host Danny Kerslake.

McMenamin said concussion symptoms can disappear after three days, but the reality is the player may not be healthy and ready for at least two weeks.

A player may feel better after a few days, but he says that's a dangerous illusion.

"Underlying at a metabolic level, there's a lot of energy deficiencies, and [athletes are] not quite ready. And they leave themselves quite vulnerable to having a second impact syndrome or an injury that is a lot more long term," he said.

Tests compare pre- and post-concussion data

How does his program work?

It's called Complete Concussion Management, and it was first developed by a Toronto-based chiropractor who found holes in the literature and research about what a concussion is and how it should be treated.

"Some protocols said a week, some protocols are longer term. What he did is fill in those gaps."

Now, McMenamin is taking a baseline developed by that chiropractor and uses it to evaluate when a player can return to the field after sustaining a concussion. 

The baseline test "looks at more things than just symptoms alone. It takes the subjectivity out of it, because you're looking at different tests from memory, concentration, visual tracking, balance, motor strength," McMenamin explained.

"It's essentially a huge neurocognitive test. So it assesses the brain function of different things that would be affected with a concussion," he said.

Baseline tests results are compared with those done prior to the athlete's concussion, giving "us more measures to say to the athlete, 'look you're not ready yet,'" McMenamin said.

Despite that he`s working with a hockey team, he said that the baseline testing procedures can be used in any sport where it`s possible to sustain a concussion, even non-contact sports like soccer or cheerleading. 

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