Ice Hockey Summit’s Goal: To Prevent Concussions

September 28, 2017 10:29 PM

Concussions are serious brain injuries that can keep players off the ice from the National Hockey League down to the Mites level, that’s why Mayo Clinic is hosting a summit to find ways to make the game safer for anyone who plays.

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Ice Hockey Summit III: Action on Concussion 2017 in Rochester brings together top sports medicine experts, national along with international hockey coaches and officials for a two-day meeting to brainstorm ways to prevent concussions including rule and equipment changes.


"We love the game, but we need to treat the brain with respect," said co-director of summit, Aynsley M. Smith PhD, RN.  “We've got a good foundation to demand changes be made."

Smith, who not only is a researcher at Mayo but also consults top-notch goalies and other top athletes, said the "No. 1" change to the game of hockey that could protect children who play is to eliminate head hits, which includes taking checking out of the Bantams level.

RELATED: Former Players say NHL Downplayed Concussions, Ignore Science

"I want to see it (checking) taken out of Bantams," said Smith due to the age of the athlete’s developing body. “When you rock a player into the boards the brain is rocked forward."

App to Detect Concussions

The ice hockey summit panels also learned about advances in immediate side-line concussion detection apps including the KD test, that parents can download, which was profiled in a recent 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in-depth report.

Link to previous story to see what to search in App Store

The KD test is currently an app that can be downloaded on a tablet computer. A person can take the test at the start of a season to set their baseline score.  After a possible head injury, the athlete can retake the test. If those speeds don't match, a player could have a concussion.

In 2015, the Mayo Clinic endorsed the KD test as a “quick, objective and accurate” sideline concussion tool.

RELATED: Former NHL Player's Medical Records 'Intentionally Concealed'

West Metro Rink Makes Safety Change 

When you sit in the stands at the Minnetonka Ice Arena A, the glass surrounding the rink may looks like most rinks in Minnesota, but it’s not with its abrasion resistant plexiglass. 

"With all the awareness on concussions we decided to go a step forward,” said John Heckmann, arena manager. “There's a lot of flex when there is impact on the head and shoulder when the kids or adults are starting to check.”

Concussion Insurance for Wisconsin Student Athletes

Heckmann demonstrated to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS when a player hits the boards the glass gives on average 4 to 6 inches, over a traditional tempered glass found he said at other rinks which he said feels like hitting a "brick wall." 

Minnetonka is considering putting this dipped abrasion resistant plexiglass up in their other arena, the total price tag according to Heckmann was $225,000, which included the $25,000 upgrade for the special glass.

Minnesota State High School league Free Concussion Insurance


Eric Chaloux

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