43-year-old ex-professional hockey player

I played hockey since the age of five. I not only was good at the sport but I truly enjoyed practicing, which in turn made me better. I began to suffer concussions during my Junior A career. It was all extremely new to me. I didn’t know much about the impacts at the time of injury, nor did I know how to make this unnatural feeling “go away”. There was never any thought about tomorrow. It may sound extremely primitive but my trainer would give me warm cups of water and after 20 minutes or so things would improve. We didn’t know what we were dealing with. I had not been “knocked out” but rendered ”off,” ”dizzy” and ”spacey.” This made a diagnosis and future game plan difficult back then. My trainer wanted the best for me, as I obviously did for myself, but where were the answers?

Time has played a critical role in the acknowledgement and understanding of concussions. For the most part, no longer is a player or person looked at as being soft or not up for the task. However, at the professional level, that problem is still prevalent. Many times it is the player who is not being perfectly honest with the doctors and trainers for fear of losing his position on the team. Compounding this is the stigma of a concussion history that attaches itself to a player whereby opponents make cheap and unnecessary attempts to make a name for themselves at the price of someone else’s health. In a weird and twisted way they are rewarded for their actions. These players are rarely the ones who make a difference on the score sheet, but are still those that become coveted by opposing teams — and their contracts reflect it.

Concussions will always occur. In a high paced, contact sport like hockey with strong, powerful players skating at high speeds, it seems inevitable that players will get hurt. One would just like to think that players would respect their opponents and avoid doing the unnecessary in a deliberate fashion. In the event that a player does suffer from ”concussion-like symptoms,” it is important to get real, acknowledge that it is a concussion and make sure the proper steps are taken to assist the person back to proper health. The one remedy that I have always found to be the best is simply time. In that, I find it ironic that it has taken this long for the injury of suffering a concussion to be talked about more openly and honestly than ever before. The “C” word should not be whispered. On that same note, one would hope that all advances in this field are being shared and funding is being used appropriately.