Hockey's most under-reported injury: players, doctors to open up

Hockey's most under-reported injury will be the focus of an open and frank discussion featuring Eric Lindros, Jeff Beukeboom and other former pro hockey players whose careers were plagued by concussions.

Lindros, Beukeboom set to speak at concussion conference Jan. 17

Hockey's most under-reported injury will be the focus of an open and frank discussion featuring Eric Lindros, Jeff Beukeboom and other former pro hockey players whose careers were plagued by concussions.

The incidence and treatment of the injury at the youth level is a big item on the agenda, with doctors, coaches and trainers all speaking on the issue at the inaugural London Hockey Concussion Summit, set for Jan. 17 in London, Ont.

"I don't think anybody else has seen such a group of experts and professional hockey players get together and talk about this in an open matter, which is what it needs," says summit chair, Dr. Paul Echlin, a junior hockey doctor who practices sports medicine in London.

Addressing youth concussions will be OHL and WHL consultant Dr. Michael Czarnota, who will discuss incidence and treatment of concussions in minor hockey, and Dr. Jason Mihalik of the University of North Carolina, who will report on data from the recent multi-centred youth concussion study.

They're among nine physicians who will speak at the day-long summit, but as Echlin explains, "It's not just a medical meeting."

Lindros will talk about the eight concussions he experienced during his career in the NHL, and Beukeboom and fellow former pro Mark Moore will discuss post-concussion symptoms that forced them to retire from the game.

Also on the athlete panel are National team member, two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion Jennifer Botterill, and former NHLer Alyn McCauley. 

The summit has drawn interest from minor hockey associations, and those attending will include Greater Toronto Hockey League president John Gardner.

"He's been a big proponent of awareness of head injuries, and absolutely we want proponents of minor hockey attending," Echlin says. "This is a very important part of it, the awareness at the early levels of the game."

The doctor says the way concussions are treated needs to be changed and for that to happen, coaches, administrators, physicians, athletes and parents all need to become more educated about the injury.

"All the entities need to work as a team to identify and protect these young people in our society," Echlin says. "They have lives after hockey, but still everybody turns their head to this issue. We can no longer look away."