February 20, 2015 4:57 pm
Updated: February 20, 2015 11:38 pm

Should concussion baseline testing be mandatory for young hockey players?

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WATCH: A Langley family is hoping to turn its personal tragedy into a safer future for young athletes. Linda Aylesworth reports. 

VANCOUVER – The sister and friend of a young hockey player who committed suicide are calling for concussion baseline testing to be mandatory for young hockey players.

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Ryan Donaldson was only 17 years old when he took his own life. He had been playing hockey since he was five, but his family believed he suffered three major concussions, which required hospitalization. They believe his concussions contributed to his mood changes and his suicide.

“If he was on the ice, if he was playing hockey, it would have made him a lot happier and having that last concussion where it took that away, changed the way he was and changed the way he cored-valued himself and who he was,” said Riley McEachern, Ryan’s friend.

Kristen, Ryan’s sister, said after the last concussion, her brother turned nocturnal. “I’d like to see [concussion baseline testing] for all minor hockey and eventually all hockey.”

Dr. Jim Bovard, from SportsMedBC, said baseline testing would be done before anyone has an injury so that doctors have information after someone is injured to see a before and after picture.

“Really we have to look at the overall management of concussions at different ages,” said Bovard.

“When we do a history of someone.. when they’ve had a concussion, one of the parts of that is asking if they’ve had any other concussions. And often, if it’s a younger child, you’ll find out that they fell off a swing, or they fell off their bike a number of years ago, and they didn’t think too much of it,” added Bovard. “They had a headache for a couple of days, and of course, thinking back they’re saying ‘that, by our definition would be a concussion’.”

Bovard said a head injury needs to be properly evaluated and managed and children need to be taught this from a young age.

“I think the key message, in my mind, is managing concussions is a team sport, not an individual sport. Because there is such variance in the outcomes that they have.”

He said, in his opinion, people cannot be too concerned about concussions. “We definitely don’t’ want to miss the ones that have more complications and need more collaborative treatment.”

Signs of concussion:

Bovard said if a child or young player has a head injury, look for signs of mood disturbance, irritability, difficulty sleeping or hard to wake up. The key is if this behaviour is different from any previous behaviour.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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