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New Study Reveals Young, Concussed Hockey Players Still Impaired after Being Cleared to Play

By January 24, 2019No Comments

Young ice-hockey players who have had concussions continue to exhibit some brain impairment after being cleared to play, according to a new study by researchers from Simon Fraser University, the Surrey Health and Technology District and the Mayo Clinic.

SFU professor Ryan D’Arcy, founder of Surrey’s Health and Technology District, led a research and development team that has developed a new set of objective physiological measures for tracking the brain’s “vital signs.”

The researchers used this technology, which is a breakthrough for analyzing complex brainwave data, to track brain function in Junior A male hockey players over two seasons.

The researchers detected neurophysiological impairments, such as attention and cognitive processing deficits, in players who had been diagnosed with concussions and were cleared for return-to-play using routine clinical concussion-management protocols. Surprisingly, players who were not diagnosed with concussions during the season were also tested and found to have significant delays in cognitive processing. The study’s lead author, SFU PhD student Shaun Fickling, says this is thought to be due to repetitive ‘subconcussive impacts’.

The research results appear in the February issue of Brain: A Journal of Neurology published by Oxford University Press.