Concussion Safety Tips for Summer Sports

Concussion safety is a clear priority for many contact sports like football, rugby, and hockey but it should also be a priority for many of the summer sports we love like wakeboarding, surfing, skateboarding or mountain biking. Athletes love summer because there’s no school, great weather and plenty of time to be active.

A pinnacle of summer sports is the X Games, an annual 3-day multi-sport event which features some of the top competitors in the world. The X Games has received notoriety since its beginning in ’95 thanks to the top-tier athletes and their unruly tricks, but the games aren’t without mishaps.



A study of US  ER visits from 2000-2011 reported an increase in the number of reported of concussions in extreme sports. This study followed 7 extreme sports: Snowboarding, snowmobiling, snow skiing, surfing, motocross, skateboarding and mountain biking. While snow sports took the top two spots, 20% of all reported concussions came from skateboarding and roughly 15% from motocross.”

Summer is the perfect time to make sure athletes, parents, and coaches are taking proactive steps toward concussion prevention.  Here are some safety tips for your summer.

Know the Signs of a Concussion and STOP

No sport is worth more than a healthy brain. If you suspect a concussion, pull the athlete from the game. Learn the danger signs that warrant an ER visit:


  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Any loss of consciousness
  • Continual nausea and/or vomiting
  • Excessive drowsiness or can’t be awakened
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Worsening head pain or a headache
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Slurred speech
  • Can’t recognize people or places
  • Has unusual behavior
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination


All athletes with suspected concussions should see a doctor—either ER or primary care. The doctor can run tests, prescribe pain medication, give a list of dos and don’ts, and follow up with the athlete about returning to play.

Take a Concussion Baseline Test

If you get a concussion, practitioners use a neurocognitive test to determine your cognitive, visual, and other deficits. However, this test is most useful when you have something to compare it to.  Getting a baseline test will ensure treatment following a possible concussion is more accurate and necessary. Try to arrange this through your coach, school, or primary physician.


HeadCheck allows for a trained professional to administer a baseline concussion test quickly and easily. It will also provide them with an instant results comparison if you suffer a concussion.

Stay Hydrated and Sun Safe

Depending on your location, summer days can go into the 90s and humidity is inevitable. This means high UV rays, likely muscle cramps, and an increased chance of passing out on the field. Overheating, muscle cramps, and blacking out can lead to athletes suddenly falling over and hitting their head. Falling is the leading cause of concussions, making up over half of all diagnosed each year. Prevent these incidents by encouraging hydration, sun screen use, and other cool down methods like cooling towels and ice packs.

Wear the Right Gear

When skateboarding, biking, kayaking, and training for football, athletes must wear the right gear—no matter how uncomfortable or unnecessary it may seem. A helmet alone cannot prevent a concussion, but it can help limit the impact if you take a hard hit or a fall. Helmets should even be worn by water sports athletes because hitting your head hard against the water surface can be as bad as hitting the ground. If you lose consciousness when boating, water skiing, kayaking, etc., a life vest will keep you afloat until help arrives.

Play Smarter Not Harder

Aggressiveness is great, but overdoing it can lead to an undesirable outcome. Play smarter by learning proper techniques for the sport you're involved in and knowing your limitations. Coaches especially should educate athletes about how to protect their head when tackling in sports such as football or when heading a soccer ball. Also, take special awareness to mismatches on the field where you have a significantly smaller athlete guarding or running with someone bigger.

Listen to Your Body

Preventing a concussion requires listening to your body to know when enough is enough. It’s common for coaches to require suicides or excessive repetitions to get athletes in shape or punish them for poor performance. However, pushing too far can lead to severe health consequences like passing out, collisions, and muscle cramps. In summer heat especially, players must stop if their body cannot handle anymore.

Coaches should alter practice schedules and game day rotations based on the day’s heat and humidity. They have a responsibility to their team to keep them safe and not shame them if they need a break.

Don’t Play Through An Injury

During the summer, athletes are preparing for team try-outs or playing with elite teams. This means that many athletes will play through their injuries. Not only can this worsen the existing injury, it can cause new ones. For example, running on an injured ankle means your body is weaker than normal; this makes tripping and falling with or without collision likely. This could injure another player and/or result in head trauma.


Coaches need to create a team environment where it’s okay if you can’t play. The weight of a team cannot fall so heavily on one person that they would rather risk injury than sitting out. Start this process through a conversation about the topic and by watching how you talk about your players when others are around.

Promote Concussion Education

No matter how much you need them back in the game, an athlete with a possible concussion cannot return to play until cleared by a doctor. Putting the players’ health above the team’s needs is the #1 thing a coach and parent can do for his or her athletes. Make this known to all players and parents at the season’s start. Also, hand out these concussion safety tips and information about concussion protocol and symptoms. You might even consider electing a concussion coordinator for the team.

Elect or Serve as Concussion Coordinator

Although not as fun a job as bringing snacks, a concussion coordinator plays an important role. They can:


  • Educate coaches, parents, and players about concussions in sports
  • Gather all contact information for players, their families, and their doctors
  • Check that equipment has the proper padding and there is enough gear for every player
  • Oversee sideline cool down methods
  • Make the call and take over when there’s a possible concussion
  • Check in with concussed players to help them feel connected to the team


Concussion recovery can take from a few weeks to a few years. This type of mild traumatic brain injury can even have lifelong emotional, monetary, and physical effects. Staying educated, following the above tips, and taking concussions seriously can help keep you, your children, or your team safe.

AT Stories: Joey Garland - Windsor Spitfires

Joey Garland is completing his eleventh season as Athletic Therapist of the 2017 Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires. The Memorial Cup is awarded annually to the champions of the Canadian Hockey League.


A native of Newfoundland, Joey became interested in Athletic Therapy at a young age. In recent years he has also found success at the international level, winning Gold with Team Canada at the World U-18 Championships in Russia and representing his country again in 2014 at the U-20 Championships.


Garland graduated with a B.Sc. (Kinesiology) from Dalhousie University in 2002 and also obtained his Sports Injury Management Diploma from Sheridan College in 2005. In the midst of the whirlwind of Windsor hosting the Memorial Cup tournament, Joey took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about his passion.



You have had some success on a global scale with Team Canada and are now entering your 11th season with the Spitfires, why did you choose Athletic Therapy? 


Joey: I guess I chose athletic therapy because I have loved sports from a young age. I was never really good at anything but I knew the culture was something that I wanted to stay involved in. I have also always enjoyed watching athletes perform on TV and hated when players got hurt. Even my mom recalls stories from before I can remember of me as a kid watching first responders run out to assist an injured athlete during a televised game, and I always said, “I wanna do that.” So uhh (laughs) I think it was just in me to do.


What is your favourite part about your job?


Joey: My favourite part of my job is just seeing the boys perform. At this level and when they advance. Our league is very much developmental. Namely, it is trying to produce elite athletes, professional hockey players, but even more than that just good people. I keep track as they move to other endeavours and from time to time I get an email from a former player looking to get into Athletic Therapy, Kinesiology, or strength and conditioning. They appreciated what I did for them, and are now also looking to move into the same role as professionals. It is a special feeling.


What are the top 3 most common injuries you handle on a day-to-day basis?


Joey: AC sprains, MCL sprains, and concussions


In your position with the Spitfires, how do you handle player concussions?


Joey: We have a league protocol. Additionally, the OHL has a neuropsych consultant that our team works with. We get a baseline done for each of the boys at the beginning of the season via impact testing. Starting next year we will also be using HeadCheck to help with data collection, storing, and sharing of protocols. Once an incident occurs athletes are re-tested and that along with their symptoms will be examined to determine whether they are cleared or initiate a return-to-play protocol.



How do you treat concussions on a personal level? Undoubtedly, it is a daunting injury for a young player. How do you provide both physiological and psychosocial support for your athletes?


Joey: In this regard there has actually been a bit of a swing since I joined the profession over a decade ago. Concussions have become slightly easier to treat due to players, parents, agents, and coaches being more informed about the realities of the injury. Particularly with the publicity surrounding players like Sidney Crosby, concussions have been given much more emphasis and legitimacy at the highest level. There is a greater understanding of the long-term ramifications that head injuries can have on one’s career and even quality of life as a human being. That being said, telling a kid that they are going to miss any length of time is really difficult. Nobody wants to sit out.


If you could hold your own workshop, what is your thing? What fuels your fire/what are you the BEST at?


Joey: I would say incorporating strength and conditioning with athletic therapy to minimize injury, and reduce the time missed. I am passionate about integrating strength and conditioning with the therapy aspect of training. I love the blend of “prehab” exercises with rehabilitation and still staying active with the team even if it is in a limited capacity. But when speaking of the strength and conditioning aspect of my job there is a lot of psychology that comes into play. Not every player reacts the same way to the same exercises or rehab protocols so it is important to consistently adapt to the individual. It can be challenging because players get advice from different people or have heard the “key to success” or the best way to make it to the NHL from agents, parents, and other athletes. What I want most is to get each of them performing at their full potential while explaining that there are many ways to find success in hockey. Buying into the system part of it is crucial, and is often the difference maker between good teams and champions.


What's the most challenging part of your job?


Joey: Well (laughs) probably pretty much the same thing. It is dealing with all of the outside sources and getting a player to buy in to what we’re doing and why what we are doing is going to be best for them. The information they are getting from other sources may not be wrong, but it is just not how we do it here.



Unfortunately, you guys were eliminated in the first round of playoffs, how did you help ensure that Windsor would be ready to host the Memorial Cup tournament?


Joey: The coaches and I sat down, looked at our calendar, and realized that we had 44 days to peak. We could have viewed this period as a long lay off where we could get rusty and slow, but instead we chose to see it as an advantage. We had a unique opportunity to get healthy and into excellent shape. In coordination with the RMT, I also brought in a yoga instructor and consulted with a few other strength coaches. We created a 6-week program to peak for May 19th. The guys bought in. All the credit goes to the players. They could have sat on their thumbs and waited or only given a half effort at the gym but they never once wavered. I think it showed with our results.


How do you communicate and coordinate with ATs and rehabilitation staff from other teams?


Joey: There was a generalized medical meeting at the beginning of the tournament. Basically an explanation of the protocols, relevant contacts, and resources teams can access while they are here. More personally, we all talk and communicate professionally. The relationships between support staff are very open and casual. We have our league meetings and that is really where we share. This is where we help each other to get better individually and as a group.


What is your favourite part about the hockey community?


Joey: My favourite part of the hockey community is…how do I explain this…it is a small world. I’ll be in a random airport and I will run into someone that played here 6 years ago. For example, one year at the World Junior tournament I was in Malmo, Sweden and I got a random knock on my hotel room door. It was a former Spitfires player that happened to be playing professionally there. It is a very interconnected community and you would be hard pressed to find more than two degrees of separation no matter where you go. I think it is pretty neat. I grew up and lived in Newfoundland for most of my life and we are pretty isolated (laughs). Elite trainers, NHL players, the best hockey brains in the world; I always looked up to them as a kid and now to be integrated into the same circles is such an exciting privilege for me.


What would you most like to see progress in hockey safety?


Joey: Well, this answer is something that I have become extremely focused on in the last couple of years. I will be finishing my masters this summer and much of my research has focused on early specialization in youth sports. Kids are playing hockey and only hockey at a very young age at the expense of trying other sports or activities. In my scope, this is where overuse injuries really come into play. Surgeries, sports hernias, labral tears, or conditions like FAI developing in 16 or 17 year-olds. In reality, these types of conditions or injuries should never occur so young. They are more commonly seen in the 25-30 year old athlete age range, if ever. Additionally, these kids do not have the same athleticism coming in and I find are more prone to even minor ailments. One of my goals in my job here and as an athlete therapist overall is to get the message out there to young talent to broaden their base. I think that all children under 12 should seek balance and compete in a variety of sports.




After being eliminated in the first round of the 2017 OHL playoffs, Windsor completed an intense 6-week training program led by Garland in order to prepare for the Memorial Cup tournament. The Spitfires opened strong, and swept the competition in round robin play - finishing with a 3-0 record. This was enough to clinch a spot in the final. Windsor faced the Erie Otters in a fast-paced and physical game, emerging as the 2017 Memorial Cup Champions with a 4-3 victory.


Joey Garland is yet another example of the integral role rehabilitation science plays in athletic success, individually and on a team level. Joey facilitates the harmony of strength training, sport psychology, and athletic therapy. This approach has helped him to excel in his field. Garland's message of balance incorporates encouraging young athletes to try lots of different types of activity, nutritional and physical education, and ensuring continuous psychological and performance-oriented support. Although he loves to win and see each of his players perform, Joey also aims to nurture healthy, intelligent, and hard-working human beings, prepared for all of life's future endeavours.

(Photo Credits:

Sarah Allison

BHK – Clinical Exercise Physiology

BSN-PB Student – Nursing (RN)

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.


Concussion Stories: Hunter Mills - SAIT Trojans Hockey

Return to play protocols and the physiology of concussion are a veritable "hot topic" in modern athletics today. This is particularly true of elite, contact sports. Indeed, a majority of the clients and healthcare professionals involved with HeadCheck Health are linked to hockey, football, rugby, or lacrosse.


Less rarely and intricately examined, however, are the lifestyle implications a brain injury can have on a student-athlete. In addition to attending lectures, taking exams, and completing assignments at the same pace and barometer of excellence as their fellow students, athletes attend daily weight training sessions, practices, and frequently travel to other cities or provinces for competitions and games. In recent studies, the NCAA has released that the estimated dedication to athletic excellence costs a player an average of 37-52 hours per week. This value does not include schoolwork and (almost exclusively) negates the prospect of being able to sustain additional part-time, paid employment.


Concussion and the prolonged effects of post-concussion syndrome can be extremely challenging and almost always affect life off the court, the field, or outside of the rink. As we know, some of the hallmark symptoms of concussion (and recovery) are: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, loss of concentration and memory, and noise and light sensitivity. With concussion, seemingly normal tasks like maintaining a sleep schedule and attempting to stay within academic expectations of critical thinking and learning becomes challenging. On top of that comes daily check-ins with team medical professionals.


This week's interview features an ACAC college hockey player all too familiar with this process. Hunter Mills is a Business Administration student at SAIT and an active member of the men’s hockey team. In his second year with the Trojans, he was sidelined several times due to recurrent concussions and recovery complications. Along with learning the misconceptions surrounding head injury, Hunter has also come to understand the tribulations associated with having to constantly articulate how he is feeling or explain why it is a 'good' day or a 'bad' day.


His testimonial is a tribute to the complexity of such an injury.


Hunter Mills SAIT Trojans Hockey
Hunter Mills #28 | courtesy of SAIT Trojans Athletics


How many concussions have you had?


Hunter: Not really sure, the safe guess would have to be approximately 5 or 6.


What is the most surprising or disconcerting symptom you have experienced?


Hunter: I think getting back to the bench after taking a hard hit and the feeling of it; it is hard to describe. It is almost like you're in a 3rd person perspective or in a dream. I've gone out on the ice again after having this happen and sort of just floated around not really knowing what I should be doing or what is going on in the game. Probably my biggest fear is forgetting something during the day and having the thought that it could be correlated somehow to the injuries I've had. I think most of the time I'm just overthinking it, but that is exactly what worries me about concussions, losing my memory or not being able to be "myself”. That is what scares me the most.


The protocols, including baseline testing, ongoing assessment, and the checklist for returning to play can be frustrating for many competitive athletes. Naturally, you are eager to return as quickly as possible. What have your learned most in having to go through this process? Is there anything you wish other athletes or your teammates knew about head injuries?


Hunter: One of the most frustrating or annoying things about having a concussion is having to tell about 5 people everyday how you feel and why. You're expected to grade yourself on over 20 potential symptoms and feelings you may have on a scale of 0-6. It is difficult because no chart or scale is able to tell you if you're okay or not. I know if the day is a good day or bad day and I'd rather not have to fill out some checklist to prove this. I've filled out hundreds of these SCATs and I understand their purpose but sometimes the process can be draining. Recently, I started seeing a concussion specialist and I found having less people dealing with the whole process improved my day to day and made me feel a lot better about everything. I really appreciate all the medical staff's assistance and support during the process. It has been hard having to be so honest about how I am feeling.

Hunter Mills SAIT Trojans Hockey
Hunter Mills #28 | courtesy of SAIT Trojans Athletics



Throughout their development, athletes have access to lots of new equipment and types of therapy. What do you think has been most helpful to your recovery?


Hunter: I think the biggest contributing factor to helping me with my recovery is the knowledge that everyone now has regarding concussions and head injuries. My coaches and teammates, especially the captain of my team Dean Allison and assistant coach Brett Bartman really helped myself to make the right decisions regarding my injuries. The leadership, compassion and maturity they have provided have been invaluable to my progress and ability to cope with everything. Throughout my junior career, I was pressured not to miss games and my coach often said that “it is all in my head” and a concussion is not a real injury. My experience at SAIT has been the complete opposite. I am encouraged to make the correct decisions to get healthy because people care about each other and a future after hockey. I want to thank Dan Olsen my head coach, the rest of the staff at SAIT, and my teammates because although the new equipment and therapies streamline and articulate the recovery process – the biggest difference for me has been the people around me.


Hunter Mills SAIT Trojans Hockey
the support of friends and family is enormous for every athlete | photo courtesy of Sarah Allison


Looking ahead, is there anything you'd love to see in the field of concussion science from an athlete's perspective? How has brain injury affected your lifestyle, hockey career, and thoughts about the future?


Hunter: Although it can be tedious, finding out exactly what each individual athlete requires for brain recovery is huge. In addition to the protocols and questions, providing a supportive and educational atmosphere is incredibly beneficial. My teammates and family played a huge role for me. Undoubtedly, there are ways to further blend science with the more intangible and relational sides of healing. Having a concussion is unlike any other injury in sports. If it were anything other than my brain - I would have been out there grinding through it with the boys.  It is not easy to constantly dissect your state of mind and this shift in my thinking has been the biggest adjustment for my life and future.



Sarah Allison

BHK – Clinical Exercise Physiology

BSN-PB Student – Nursing (RN)

AT Stories: Kate Trippier, Head Athletic Therapist - SAIT Trojans

Athletic Therapy is a unique discipline that encompasses both clinical and field practice. It is one of the few rehabilitation professions wherein one is required to manage an athletic injury at both ends of the continuum: from initial trauma to return to play. ATs work cohesively and collaboratively with other healthcare professionals and must fulfill a broad spectrum of competencies on any given day. Athletic therapists are elite caregivers that provide on-site treatment in the management of sport-related injuries. In many cases, the profession requires one to adopt emergency care protocols for injured athletes using adaptations of existing medical and paramedical standards.


The Competencies in Athletic Therapy are divided into five domains:

  1. Prevention
  2. Assessment
  3. Intervention
  4. Practice Management
  5. Professional Responsibility

An Athletic Therapist is an extraordinarily valuable friend and colleague to have in any stage of life and athletics. Today we will gain insight on what makes the profession so special.

(Photos courtesy of

Kate Trippier Interview

March is National Athletic Trainers Month so it is only fitting to begin with an extremely knowledgeable and insightful individual. Kate Trippier is the Head Athletic Therapist at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary. She completed her Kinesiology degree and AT certification through the partner program at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. After graduation, Kate worked in a private clinic until she was hired to work with the Trojans in 2016.


Why did you decide to become an Athletic Therapist?


Kate: I was born and raised in a small town in northwestern Ontario without any qualified rehabilitation professionals. I played a handful of sports growing up, primarily hockey, and at one point I fractured a vertebrae in my neck. Getting access to care and a proper plan for recovery was really challenging. It was a lengthy and often frustrating process but the experience allowed me to do a lot of research. It sparked a passion to learn about the human body and musculoskeletal world in a hands-on way.


What is your favourite part about working with young, elite athletes; the most challenging aspect?


Kate: I love how entertaining they are. Every day at work I have a great time and it is hard to go even an hour without sharing some chuckles. Athletes are highly motivated and hard working people, but they are also intelligent and hilarious.


The most challenging part of my job is trying to foster the understanding that there is life after the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). Many athletes struggle to understand or are frustrated by why they are being held out of games or practices when they feel they could play. As you grow older, you come to understand just how much of life there is to see, and how many important and exciting experiences are waiting beyond college athletics. It is my job to keep them healthy for life, not just the season.


What do you currently do when you suspect an athlete could have sustained a concussion?


Kate: SAIT is really fortunate to have access to practicum students who are assigned to each of our varsity teams. If an injury or suspected concussion occurs during training or competition, they are immediately assessed by whoever is on site. If the athlete reveals signs or symptoms of a concussion they are immediately removed from play. The next business day the athlete will check in with our clinic and myself for a comprehensive exam. We do a full SCAT 3 and compare their results to the baseline testing conducted on all athletes prior to the beginning of each season. Depending on the results, we follow protocols from here.


The athlete will continue to check in daily until asymptomatic, at this point we can proceed with the return to learn protocol. If every step of this is successfully completed, we move on to the return to play protocol. This process has become quite universal and much more streamlined in recent years. By scraping the old school grading system and implementing a specific 5-stage protocol, it allows us to be more consistent and thorough across the board.


 At SAIT, there are numerous varsity teams and over a hundred athletes representing the Trojans. What resources do you feel best equip you to do your job? 


Kate: In addition to what we have already mentioned with our practicum students and certain protocols, having access to the sports medicine clinic in Calgary is invaluable. We are able to get our athletes in with Sports Medicine as soon as next day if urgent. We are fortunate to have the option to get athletes in with Dr. Brian Benson at Winsport. He is one of the leaders in concussion research. He is able to have athletes complete further testing, such as robotics, to aid in the safe return to play of anyone referred.


Looking to the future, how would you like to see the field of concussion science develop?


Kate: I am glad you asked this. The technology is progressing at a fairly rapid pace which is great to see, however there is still a long way to go. It would be great if we could get onsite testing that is more in depth that what we currently have available through the basic SCAT3. There are some technologies available at this time, but athletes can still ‘’throw the testing’’ at baseline or become accustomed to the assessment allowing them to appear to be better than they are. It’s definitely a lot to ask to have something available at our finger tips that is in depth, accurate, and without loop holes and that’s likely why it isn’t available yet.


Hopefully, as technology continues to advance it won’t be long before this is available for all Athletic Therapists’ to utilize. From a return to play perspective, I would love to see a more psychological aspect be added to the current model. It is known that there are psychological effects associated with concussions from frustration due to inability to participate to feeling isolated from the team. Although athletes are always advised of options on where to seek help for this aspect of health it is often not sought out.


"Your neck is your head's safety belt. Keep your neck muscles strong to help reduce risk for concussion." - Kate Trippier



Athletes in every field are bigger, faster and stronger. There have been advances to equipment in several sports, and training, nutrition and preparation have never been better. Once lagging behind, the scientific and medical knowledge of brain trauma is now determined to keep pace. From elite athletes to the general public, our community is growing and there have been steady increases in curiosity and understanding of concussion science. At HeadCheck, we support professionals to provide concussion testing and management for their athletes.


Sarah Allison

BHK - Clinical Exercise Physiology

BSN-PB Student - Nursing (RN)

HeadCheck Health named a Digital Health Emerging Rocket

March 3, 2017 - HeadCheck Health is proud to be among the companies selected for the 2017 Emerging Rocket Digital Health List. The 15th annual "Ready To Rocket" lists profile top private British Columbia companies positioned to capitalize on growth in their technology sector. The lists are compiled after many months of careful sector and company analysis.


“We identify companies that have both innovative technology and are uniquely positioned to provide a compelling solution. Our analysis of the market and the company progress led to our selection of HeadCheck Health as an Emerging Rocket Digital Health company.” said Geoffrey Hansen, Managing Partner, Rocket Builders.


HeadCheck Health Inc. is a Canadian company that has created a reliable and objective sideline concussion testing and management application for sports teams. 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. Contact us for more information.


About Ready to Rocket
Ready to Rocket is a unique business recognition list that profiles technology companies with the greatest potential for growth. Each year, based on analysis of trends, Rocket Builders identifies the top private companies that are best positioned to capitalize on these trends to achieve growth. This selection methodology has been an accurate predictor of investment and business success with past "Ready to Rocket" companies.


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 based off of the gold standard Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3), but 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.

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.