How HeadCheck Implemented a League-Wide Concussion Testing System

Onboarding the British Columbia Hockey League in Four Days


When HeadCheck Health partnered with the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) to implement our concussion testing system for the entire league, we knew the challenge would be great but not insurmountable. The BCHL is one of the most scouted and skilled Junior A hockey leagues in Canada with 17 teams and just under 400 athletes. The teams being spread across 945 km² presented a logistical challenge for our task of completing in-person training for each team athletic therapist and supporting them through the initial baseline testing of each player in the league.

We announced our partnership in August and within a week had a plan mapped out for how we were going to get the league up and running. Together with the League executives, we selected five days in September which would have all 17 teams in one city – during the Bauer BCHL Showcase. Shortly after the announcement, we connected with coaches and trainers to confirm the designated training and testing time. Prior to the Showcase, interested AT’s were invited to book an hour with our customer success team to get comfortable with our technology.

"The onboarding process was extremely smooth and efficient. The HeadCheck team worked with each of our teams’ trainers to ensure proper training and implementation. They remain in close contact with our teams and always available to assist directly. Overall I am very pleased with the level of service and support provided.” – Trevor Alto, BCHL Executive Director

Fortunately, the league has some incredibly diligent AT’s who work incredibly hard, long hours, traveling with the team and nurturing the athletes back to health when sick or injured. The season starts early for them – in August with organizing their equipment, stocking their medkits and getting to know their players. It was around this time that the BCHL announced they were moving forward with HeadCheck and in only a week we had meetings booked with those eager to get started.


By the time the BCHL Showcase rolled around, we had a detailed plan of attack and a team of four who were tasked with the training and testing for each team. Thanks to the excellent organization of the league, we knew exactly which teams would be in which locker rooms and confirmed with each team where and when we would meet them. Training for teams took about fifteen minutes and testing for each team took between 45-60 minutes depending on how many players and trainers were available for testing. Within four days, we had all athletes tested except for roughly 10 athletes who had not traveled to the Showcase with their team.

We were fortunate that the Athletic Therapists, Coaches, Governors, Owners and League Executives supporting these athletes collectively understood how we could ease some of the pains they faced in executing the league’s concussion testing protocol. By implementing the HeadCheck system, the BCHL now has a standardized concussion testing system for the entire league. Every team is now conducting testing the same way, using the same technology leading to improved player health and safety. When a player moves from team-to-team, their concussion history is transferred with them in the system so the new team can make more informed decisions if another concussion occurs. On a high-level, this type of data collection allows the HeadCheck team to run data analysis and provide the league with actionable insights that can improve safety standards across the league.

Overall, we were pleased that the onboarding process was done efficiently and effectively. We continue to work in partnership with the league to solve any issues and our customer success team is on call for 24/7 support. Onboarding a league of this size proved to be a valuable experience for our team and helps us to provide these services to new leagues that adopt the HeadCheck concussion testing system.

For more information on how HeadCheck can help implement our concussion testing system for your league, team or organization, please fill out the form here and we’ll be in touch!

HeadCheck at the Canadian Athletic Therapist Association (CATA) Conference

We've arrived in Ontario, leaving some beautiful sunshine behind us in Vancouver with the hopes of catching a glimpse of one or two sporting events (Go Spitfires!) and of course, taking a peek at one of Canada's wonders Niagara Falls! That's not all we're here to see though.

We're also here to attend the 2017 Canadian Athletic Therapist Association Conference, a three-day event which attracts some of Canada's top Athletic Therapist talents from Universities, Colleges, High Schools, and Sports Organizations from across Canada. This year's conference looks exceptional. There will be 16 speakers, including Mike Robinson who is presenting on the Best Tools and Practices for Concussion Management, and Laura Leslie, who we're most excited to hear lecture about vestibular assessments for concussed athletes.


There are poster presentations from across North America and Ireland which cover topics like head impacts in elite soccer, the incidence and long-term effects of concussion, and sport and recreational injury incidence in female Irish primary school children. Finally, this conference is rife with social activities providing prime opportunities to network and interact with other attendees.


Meeting with and teaming up with Athletic Therapists nationwide to help organizations go beyond the Gold Standard of Concussion testing and management is our primary focus at the CATA Conference. We are incredibly happy to be a silver sponsor for CATA and to exhibit for our second time at this event. Working with Athletic Therapists that have an unrelenting dedication to the athletes in their care is such a privilege. We're committed to making the lives of these individuals easier where implementation of best practices in concussion protocol is concerned. Can't wait to connect with as many people as we can over these three days!


If you are interested in HeadCheck and what we do, we'd love to have a meeting with you while we’re in town. Simply click here and schedule a time to meet.


HeadCheck completes CTA Accelerator and Dose of the Valley in San Francisco

February 28, 2017 — HeadCheck Health was selected as a participant in the Canadian Technology Accelerator San Francisco (CTA SF) Life Sciences program, run by the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco in partnership with Spire Bioventures. The Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program, which began in November 2016 and ran through the end of February 2017, provides Canadian high-growth technology companies with exposure to global markets, partners and investors. The San Francisco region is home to some of the largest and most active life sciences-oriented companies and venture capital firms. CTA SF Life Sciences is designed to provide targeted education and connectivity to help CEOs and Founders of Canadian high potential growth life sciences companies accelerate the growth of their companies. Out of 60 applicants across Canada, only 7 were selected to participate by a high-level review committee.

"This was an excellent opportunity to work with and learn from some of San Francisco's best Life Science leaders." said Kerry Costello, COO of HeadCheck Health. "Having our feet on the ground, expanding our network, and tapping into the resources and education offered through the program was an irreplaceable experience. The timing was perfect for HeadCheck Health to begin to develop a presence in the U.S. market to advance its objectives."



The Accelerator program ended this past week at Dose of the Valley in San Francisco on February 22nd and 23rd, 2017. Dose of the Valley is a two-day program organized by the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco. The annual by invitation-only event connects Canada’s most promising life science companies through roundtable discussions, industry-led workshops, one-on-one mentorship, an investor/partnering pitch session, and a networking reception.

Former NHL Players Kyle and Eric Wellwood Invest in HeadCheck Health's Undisclosed Seed Round


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Feb. 9, 2017  -- HeadCheck Health Inc., a Canadian company that has created a reliable and objective sideline concussion testing and management application (app) for sports teams, has closed an undisclosed amount of seed round financing. Kyle and Eric Wellwood, brothers who both formerly played in the National Hockey League (NHL), led the round that included other local Vancouver-based investors.
HeadCheck is backed by evidence-based science and uses gold-standard tests that assess concussion indicators such as symptoms, balance and cognitive function. It is the most comprehensive, and easiest to use concussion assessment tool available. Since launching the app in Summer 2016, the company has over 60 teams and over 1,800 athletes using HeadCheck as their primary tool for sideline concussion testing and management. The financing will enable HeadCheck to begin expanding operations to reach more teams and athletes, in addition to a continued focus on product development. Kyle and Eric Wellwood both played minor and professional hockey for many years, and they understand first-hand how important it is for athletic trainers and doctors to have instant access to reliable tools in order to make the appropriate medical decisions on the sidelines of sporting events. Kyle and Eric will also provide HeadCheck Health with industry resources, and assist in strategic direction.
"We are extremely happy that Kyle and Eric have chosen to make a strategic investment with HeadCheck Health. Their extensive industry experience and insight will be an asset to the company. They are passionate about concussion resources, and understand the magnitude of what we aim to achieve at HeadCheck," said Harrison Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of HeadCheck Health. "They've both seen first-hand the consequences of playing concussion-risk sports without solutions like ours, so they recognize the importance and value of accurately assessing concussions directly on the sidelines of sporting events with a mobile app."
"HeadCheck Health is making gold-standard concussion testing accessible to more athletes," said Kyle Wellwood, retired National Hockey League Player. "Ensuring that both children and adults are concussion tested before playing a contact sport is essential to reducing the incidents of long-term concussion related brain injuries. HeadCheck has made it affordable for all schools and organizations to conduct both pre-season testing, and post-injury concussion assessments directly on the sidelines. The technology is easy to use, and all of an athlete's data can be time-stamped and securely stored for convenient access, at any time or any location."



About HeadCheck Health

The HeadCheck app runs pre-season and post-injury concussion assessments at the sideline of sporting events. Backed by evidence-based science, the app tracks athletes' overall concussion health, and provides instant comparisons to past test performances. The mobile app is quicker to use than traditional paper assessments as it is digital and can be run from any location within minutes. HeadCheck measures a number of key identifiers of a concussion –including symptoms, balance and neurocognitive function. This allows medical professionals such as athletic trainers and doctors to make informed sideline decisions, reducing the mismanagement of athletes who are unfit to return to play. All data is time-stamped and securely stored for convenient 24/7 access. The data can follow the athlete to all future sports, providing a picture of risk management through historical data and trend analytics. HeadCheck Health App Demonstration. HeadCheck is the most comprehensive, easy to use concussion assessment tool at the most affordable price.



For more information on HeadCheck Health visit
About Kyle Wellwood

Kyle Wellwood (born May 16, 1983) played in the OHL for 4 years with an appearance at the World Jr. Hockey Championships where he represented Canada in winning a silver medal. He was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs 134th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, playing his first three seasons in the NHL with Toronto before joining the Vancouver Canucks in 2008. He played two years with Canucks and now lives in Vancouver where he participates in alumni events. His furthest playoff run was with the San Jose Sharks, where they reached the conference finals. After one season with the Sharks, he signed with the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent, where he played the final two years of his NHL career.
About Eric Wellwood

Eric Wellwood (born March 6, 1990) is a Canadian and a former professional ice hockey player and current assistant coach for the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He played parts of three NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. Wellwood was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Flyers on March 4, 2010, after playing four seasons of junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires, with whom he helped win two straight Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. On April 7, 2013 during an AHL game, Wellwood was injured after his left skate accidentally cut the back of his right leg. His achilles tendon was 70 percent severed and three additional tendons were completely severed. After missing the entire 2013–14 season, Wellwood retired and was hired as an assistant coach by the Oshawa Generals. In the 2014-2015, Wellwood coached the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup Championship. On May 20, 2016, Wellwood was named assistant coach for the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).


Media Contact:

Kari Kylo
SOMA Concepts & Solutions

HeadCheck Health Partners with SportMedBC to Provide Evidence-Based Concussion Testing


January 19, 2017


- Partnership to Provide All Levels of BC Sporting Organizations and Medical Professionals Access to an Innovate, Evidence-Based Concussion Tool and Resources


VANCOUVER, BC (January 19, 2017) – Headcheck Health Inc. (HeadCheck), a Canadian company that has created a reliable and objective sideline concussion testing and management app for sports teams, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sport Medicine Council of British Columbia (SportMedBC). HeadCheck and SportMedBC are aligned in their missions to provide best practices for concussion care and management. The purpose of this partnership is to provide all levels of British Columbian sporting organizations and medical professionals access to an innovative, evidence-based concussion tool, and resources.


At any level of sport, medical professionals such as athletic trainers and doctors need reliable tools to make appropriate medical decisions on the sideline. The HeadCheck app is backed by evidence-based science and uses gold-standard tests that assess concussion indicators such as symptoms, balance and cognitive function. It is the most comprehensive, and easiest to use concussion assessment tool available. SportMedBC’s mission is to support health through sport and exercise, with the best people, best practices and best programs in sport medicine and exercise science for British Columbians. Through this partnership, SportMedBC will be equipped with access to the HeadCheck app for concussion pre-season & post-injury testing at SportMedBC-managed sporting events, and at concussion workshops. The two organizations will act as advocates for concussion research and assessment, and share knowledge, network resources, and marketing opportunities that are mutually beneficial.


“We are excited to be working with SportMedBC and engaging more with local BC athletes, teams, and organizations to help provide better concussion care for all athletes, regardless of the level of sport,” said Harrison Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of HeadCheck Health. “SportMedBC is aligned with our desire to bring the same level of concussion care to the community level that the professional athletes receive. Both of our organizations are focused on preventing concussed athletes from returning to play, and thus our mutual goal is to directly improve the lives of those athletes we're able to connect with.”


“HeadCheck is a best-in-class tool for sideline concussion testing and management, and SportMedBC is a leader and supporter of evidenced-based concussion solutions and education,” said Robert Joncas, Executive Director of SportMedBC. “This partnership will help to improve the health and safety of our BC athletes, and provide sporting organizations and medical professionals with access to a reliable and affordable concussion tool.”


About SportMedBC

A professional not-for-profit society, SportMedBC is a focal point for sport medicine and science within the provincial sport system. SportMedBC is committed to identifying, developing and promoting best practices in sport health, sport safety and sport training. We aim to coordinate access to a network of practitioners and to be the ultimate resource for British Columbians of all levels of activity. For more information or for an interview, please contact Mike Martignago at or visit Follow us at @sportmedbc.


About HeadCheck Health

The HeadCheck app runs pre-season and post-injury concussion assessments at the sideline of sporting events. Backed by evidence-based science, the app tracks athletes’ overall concussion health, and provides instant comparisons to past test performances. The mobile app is quicker to use than traditional paper assessments as it is digital and can be run from any location within minutes. HeadCheck measures a number of key identifiers of a concussion – including symptoms, balance and neurocognitive function. This allows medical professionals such as athletic trainers and doctors to make informed sideline decisions, reducing the mismanagement of athletes who are unfit to return to play. All data is time-stamped and securely stored for convenient 24/7 access.  The data can follow the athlete to all future sports, providing a picture of risk management through historical data and trend analytics. HeadCheck Health App Demonstration


HeadCheck is the most comprehensive, easy to use concussion assessment tool at the most affordable price. For more information on HeadCheck Health visit


Media Contact:

Kari Kylo
SOMA Concepts & Solutions


HeadCheck adds VOMS to the platform

One of the outcomes of the 2012 Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport was a question as to whether vision testing could help improve the sideline identification of concussion. Since that point, researchers have been busy investigating the usefulness of different types of vision testing. From simple timed reading tasks like the King-Devick Test to more sophisticated analyses such as instrumented eye tracking – there’s been strong indication from the research world that while this type of testing alone cannot provide a comprehensive evaluation of concussion, it may provide additional utility to the current consensus gold standard tests.

Why test vision?

The concept behind vision testing is that when a concussive injury occurs, the integration of sensory information in the brain from the visual, vestibular, and motor systems (called “sensorimotor integration”) is impaired. While the visual system provides the brain the ability to process visual details in the environment, the vestibular system provides our brain information on head position and movement to maintain the control of vision and upright balance. Impairments to these systems can be in the form of delayed or inappropriate responses, or even the inability to perform normal sensory-dependent tasks, for example transitioning from walking on a cement sidewalk to grass. Testing these brain functions for impairment using simple tasks can lead to aggravation of common post-concussion symptoms, and thus exposing the underlying concussive injury.

What is VOMS?

As with any type of concussion testing, comprehensive testing of vision offers the most thorough way to successfully uncover an injury. The Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) is a fairly recently developed protocol that does just this. VOMS tests 5 common vestibular/ocular motor tasks and then assesses the changes in common post-concussion symptoms. The 5 mini-tests are as follows:


  • Smooth pursuit: tests the ability to follow a moving target while seated
  • Saccades (pronounced sahˈkäd) : tests the ability to rapidly fixate between two stationary points
  • Near point of convergence: tests the ability to view an approaching target without double vision
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR): tests the ability to stabilize vision as the head moves
  • Visual motion sensitivity: tests the ability to rotate the entire body as a unit from left to right


At the end of each mini-test, the athlete is asked to rate the following symptoms on a scale of 1-10: headache, dizziness, nausea, and fogginess.


The initial study on VOMS was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014 by Mucha and colleagues, demonstrating its internal consistency and sensitivity in identifying concussed patients. Since then, numerous investigations have been published, including those concluding that: VOMS measures unique aspects of vestibular function not tested by the King-Devick test with good reliability (Yorke et al., 2016), higher VOMS scores are associated with longer recovery times in concussed athletes (Anzalone et al., 2016), and VOMS displays an acceptable false-positive rate among healthy Division I college student-athletes (Kontos et al., 2016).


To continue to providing the most innovative solutions in concussion care, HeadCheck Health has been working hard to develop and test VOMS as an additional testing module to our comprehensive sideline concussion testing and management app. As a company, we believe this reflects our mission to bridge the gap between the latest scientific research and the sideline. If your team would like to help us test the VOMS module ahead of the official release, please shoot us a quick email at info at headcheckhealth dot com. If not, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming release and let us know if there are other modules you would be interested in adding!



Image: HeadCheck Health Inc. 2016

©2016 HeadCheck Health Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from HeadCheck Health Inc. This post should not be construed as medical advice, and is not intended as such by the authors or HeadCheck Health Inc.

Mental rest and concussion recovery

One of the most frustrating parts of having a concussion is that you can't control your recovery process or sometimes even how you're feeling. You can't anticipate those wild flashes of emotion, the sudden mood swing or dread of the next big headache that will take you out for the unforeseeable future. Further, it is hard to keep track of those sudden changes and so when you visit your doctor next you know you're still suffering but can't articulate examples of how.


Most people recover after a concussion, but how quickly they improve is reliant on a number of factors from concussion severity and age to health levels and how they take care of themselves afterward. In the conversations we've had with people recovering from concussive injury, a common theme emerged: it is hard to live life normally - at their job, in their activities, at home or when interacting with others. Frustrations are common and we are often asked "is there anything else I can do?".


The best answer may be the simplest one: Do moderation. Be patient.


Rest is incredibly important after a concussion because it helps with the recovery process. Too often we see people try to "tough it out". Unfortunately, by working through the injury, patients can sometimes make their symptoms worse. A slow and gradual return to daily activities should only happen once your symptoms have reduced significantly and your health care professional has given you the ok.


To be clear, when we say "Rest" we don't just mean sleep it off. Sleep is a keystone to the recovery process, but you also need to regulate activities that are physically or mentally demanding (working out, gaming, excessive housecleaning, surfing online, writing exams, etc.).  In some cases for students, being in classroom settings can exacerbate symptoms. Return to learning needs to be managed on a case by case basis and trialed with lots of feedback from the student and the support of a medical professional. Sustained screen time (computer, phone and tablet) should be avoided early in the recovery process and introduced gradually over time. Check in with yourself as you introduce these activities and tread lightly. If your symptoms come back, you're pushing yourself too hard. Pull back and take more time to rest and heal. Finally, keep track of any symptom or mood events and what happened beforehand. If you already use a fitness or food tracker, add your mood into the mix or keep some extra notes. If you don’t, write your symptoms down on a piece of paper and score them or download the HeadCheck app and store your symptom severity scores to share with your doctor the next time you see him/her.
While you can’t force recovery from a concussive injury, you can treat yourself with kindness by doing some of the things we’ve listed above.

A Close Inspection: Heading the Ball

In recent years, research has raised awareness in both amateur and professional sports by demonstrating the link between collisions, blows to the head, and concussions. While it is believed that 80-90% of concussions will resolve without therapeutic or pharmaceutical intervention in 7-10 days, it is suspected that repetitive impact exposure may lead to permanent damage. Sub-concussive injuries are an emerging and under-recognized phenomenon resulting from low magnitude head impacts. It is suggested that these injuries are not severe enough to result in clinically observable deficits, but may have the potential to cause significant long-term neurological changes. As a result, the effects of soccer heading on the brain has become a popular area of study, particularly due to the exposure of head impacts to young children.


Soccer is the world’s most popular sport with 240 million participants. In soccer, concussions are suspected to occur not only during head-to-head collisions, but also during head-to-ball. Recent studies on the topic of soccer heading suggest a wide range of changes to the central nervous system such as white matter microstructural and cognitive abnormalities (Lipton et al. 2013), vestibular deficits (Hwang et al. 2016), and improper pituitary function (Greco et al. 2013). Last year in the Emirates FA Cup, Andy Wilkinson suffered a concussion after a volley to his temple reduced his peripheral vision on his right side. Over the following 6 months, Wilkinson struggled with his recovery, often getting ill after practice. Wilkinson retired from soccer in February at the age of 31.


It isn’t professional athletes that are most susceptible to these changes to the nervous system. In fact, research is showing that youth are the most at risk. Perhaps most alarming for youth soccer players, damage to the pituitary gland following concussive and sub-concussive blows could result in altered brain development due to this structure’s role in the release of developmental hormones (e.g. growth hormone).


Fortunately these research findings appear to be a strong reason behind the US Soccer Federation’s move to eliminate heading for children 10 and under, and limit heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13. Other coaching methods are being used as well, including increased focus on foot fundamentals and heading technique lessons using inflatable beach balls. Concussion experts estimate that delaying the introduction of heading until high school will result in the prevention of 100,000 concussions among middle school soccer players in the US every three years. Certainly a move in the right direction.


The Men’s FA Cup final will be underway tomorrow (at 9:30am PST). We’ll be watching and like Andy Wilkinson, we’ll be hoping that the game will be incident free.

Thanks mom! A Look at How Parents Play an Important Role in Post-Injury Management



In advance of this year’s Mother’s day, we wanted to commend all of the moms and parents who have helped make physical activity a habit for their children. If you’re a parent that helps your kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, as suggested The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, then you are giving your child long-term benefits that far outreach the physical effects of activity and will make them feel good for years to come. Activity enhances self-confidence and social skills, reduces the risk of chronic disease and health problems, develops fundamental movement skills, and enhances cardiovascular fitness and strength.


With all of the good things that come with activity, it is sometimes hard to see the downside. Ask any mom and they’ll tell you that scratches and boo-boo’s are a part of being active. However some of those injuries are worse than others and parents play an important role in keeping children safe. A concussion is one injury not to mess with.


Katharine Todd Millar, a mother of two, described her first experience of seeing a concussion at a lacrosse game as “shocking and scary”.  Indeed, any sort of head injury results in a parent’s gut reaction to wrap a child in bubble wrap before returning him or her to sport. However, as Todd Millar points out, sport isn’t the only way to get a concussion. “Kids are active in many different ways all the time. We need to be aware even if our kids are not in sports.”


Similar to the role of a team doctor in professional sport, parents play an important role in concussion identification and post-concussion management. When a concussion occurs, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms and to understand how you can help your child manage his or her concussion. But you can’t see a concussion like you can a knee covered in road rash. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after an injury. Fortunately parents have an upper hand on a team doctor. “When your child is participating in sport (minor league, community programming etc.), mothers know their children the best... If something is different or has changed, then mothers are aware of that” commented Todd Millar.


Any child who is suspected of a concussion should be removed from sport and seen by a medical professional. Repeat or later concussions can be very serious and in some cases can cause long-term brain damage. A medical professional will let you know when it’s ok for your child to return to activity. Until then, any coaches and teachers should know that your child is recovering from a concussion. This is especially important if your child plays multiple sports because a soccer coach may not know about an injury from hockey practice.


Your child may find returning to school after a concussion challenging. Talk with your child’s teachers, school nurse, or counselor about his or her signs and symptoms. Initially he may require some additional help or support including rest breaks, reduced hours spent reading, writing or on the computer and/or additional time for completing assignments.
Parents are the keystone to a child’s health and welfare and with the right knowledge and diligence, they can help care for their child through the good and the bad scratches, scrapes and injuries.


Photo taken by Bopomo

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  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down”



  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes



Be alert for symptoms that worsen over time & go to emergency right away if:


  • One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Drowsiness or cannot be awakened
  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)   









Impacts on the Brain Caused by Repeated Blows - A look at the Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has seen a rapid growth in popularity over the last decade. The Martial Arts encompass several different styles, techniques and philosophies of self-defense and combat such as Karate, Judo, Jujitsu and Kickboxing. Participants of all ages benefit from the practice of discipline, physical engagement, and self-defense. However, like many other sports, sports injuries in martial arts are common. The prevalence of head injuries are only enhanced when you examine MMA, a full contact combat sport that allows for a wide variety of fighting techniques to be used in competition. In MMA, roughly 31% of professional matches end as a result of head trauma (knock-out or technical knock-out).


On Saturday in Copenhagen, Vancouver’s own “Bazooka Joe” called the #GLORY29 kickboxing fight that he would have headlined. He was sidelined from competition last year after he noticed increasing sensitivity to light and noise and was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. He was forced to withdraw his name from competition and focus on other activities including opening his own gym and play-by-play announcing.


The GLORY event comes just days after the tragic death of 28-year old MMA fighter, João Carvalho. João suffered a traumatic brain injury directly linked to the technical knockout he received at the Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin. While he did not lose consciousness during the fight, his symptoms appeared shortly afterward and rapidly increased. Despite emergency brain surgery, he succumbed to his injuries and now people are questioning the rules and regulations of MMA.


Sports with repetitive blows to the head, like boxing and MMA, have direct links with brain injuries and neurological abnormalities with symptoms that include motor, cognitive or behavioural impairments. Knock-outs and Technical Knock-outs are dangerous, without question. Researchers now believe there is a risk with sub-concussive hits (hits to the head that don’t result in concussion) which they believe might be priming the brain and making it vulnerable to a concussion. Preliminary evidence is showing that sub-concussive injuries might have cumulative effects that change the brain. There seems to be a link with cumulative hits and likelihood to develop a pituitary dysfunction (hypopituitarism), microstructural brain damage, and even Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which presents itself with symptoms similar to dementia and can only be ID’d during an autopsy.


With so many hits to the head, athletes practicing any martial arts need to be aware and educated about the risk of brain injuries in their sport. Physicians and athletic trainers should be present at all athletic exposures, and ringside tests should be performed on competitors before, during, and after a match. While there is still a culture of resistance among athletes to report concussive symptoms, sports organizations should look for opportunities to protect athletes from unnecessary permanent injury, whether through rule changes or stringent policies around return-to-sport.