AFHL all-in on concussion safety with HeadCheck Health

RED DEER - The Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) today announced a new agreement with HeadCheck Health, Inc. (HeadCheck) to supply all teams with mobile and web-based technology to follow the league’s concussion protocol and record and share vital information on suspected concussions with medical professionals.

“We’re very pleased to be teaming up with HeadCheck to help solve some of our biggest challenges in concussion safety,” said Kendall Newell, Manager of the AFHL. “Their tech simplifies what’s normally a complicated process and provides our medical professionals with the information they want to make the most informed decisions possible on the welfare of our players.”

“It shows an incredible commitment to player safety on the part of the AFHL to kick off this agreement by bringing all three levels of play onto HeadCheck,” said Harrison Brown, CEO of HeadCheck Health, Inc. “This is just the first step in providing the league with unparalleled visibility into exactly where they can best allocate resources for concussion safety.”

As part of the agreement, all Bantam Elite, Midget Elite, and Midget AAA teams will be able to use HeadCheck beginning with the upcoming season. Team trainers, athletic therapists, and safety personnel can use HeadCheck’s mobile app to document suspected concussions, perform concussion assessments per what is appropriate for their qualifications and transfer the information collected to medical professionals and partner clinics to safely return players to the ice. The platform allows a player’s concussion history to transfer with them from team-to-team or level-to-level for more informed care.

Additionally, HeadCheck is customized to the league’s concussion protocol and provides administrators governance tools and the ability to monitor compliance in real-time. Where needed, HeadCheck will supply teams within the league with contracted athletic therapists to support team staff. HeadCheck is a secure system that meets all top line health privacy standards in Canada and the United States.

About HeadCheck Health, Inc.
HeadCheck is an innovative mobile and web-based platform that gives medical and non-medical personnel the appropriate tools to follow any concussion protocol, integrates all individuals involved in concussion care, and allows the data collected to be analyzed for health and safety improvements. Hundreds of teams across the world from minor through professional sports have adopted the HeadCheck platform including: the CFL, CJHL, BC Hockey, Trek Factory Racing, Volleyball Canada, UBC Athletics, BC Rugby, Eastern Washington University, Rugby Ontario, Western Lacrosse Association, Rugby Quebec, and more. For more information visit https://www.headcheckhealth.com

Media Contacts

Kari Kylo - kari@somaworks.com
604.889.8057


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.

https://twitter.com/HeadCheckHealth/status/911291805945126912

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!


BCHL Teams Up With HeadCheck Health To Implement Standardized Concussion Testing

HeadCheck Health Inc. (HeadCheck), a Canadian company that has created a reliable objective sideline concussion testing and management software for sports teams, today announced that they have signed a service agreement with the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) covering all 17 BCHL teams throughout the league.

HeadCheck is a concussion testing and management solution, which simplifies the way concussion protocols are implemented and executed by leveraging mobile, cloud and analytic technology. The solution is available on both Apple and Android devices and features a web-based reporting dashboard enabling administrators to monitor concussion protocol compliance.

“We continue to make forward progress by selectively partnering with organizations that want to continue to do more for their athletes,” said Harrison Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of HeadCheck Health. “HeadCheck will allow BCHL teams to assess concussions more easily, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that will benefit every player in the league.”

“Player safety is of utmost importance to the BCHL,” said John Grisdale, BCHL Commissioner. “Our athletic therapists will now have instant access to a reliable concussion assessment tool during practices and games in order to make appropriate sideline medical decisions. The HeadCheck app will also assist the league with monitoring and tracking league-wide concussion protocol compliance.”

During the season, all teams will use HeadCheck to perform baseline, post-injury and return-to-play concussion tests. Qualified medical professionals involved in clearance of concussed players will also be able to access test results through HeadCheck’s system to allow for more informed decisions across the board. In addition to supplying BCHL with the HeadCheck technology, the company will also provide training, advanced analytics and reporting to help the league continue to improve their concussion management policies and procedures.

“It is great to see BCHL act as a leader in player safety by making concussion awareness, education and assessment part of their league protocol,” said Kyle Wellwood, retired National Hockey League Player and HeadCheck Health stakeholder. “HeadCheck’s software allows users to perform concussion tests that are backed by evidence-based science. It’s the most comprehensive easy-to-use concussion assessment tool available and will be an invaluable asset for the BCHL, their franchises, and all players in the league.”

About HeadCheck Health
HeadCheck provides sports team, leagues and organizations with a complete concussion solution. The company provides its customers mobile technology to run baseline, post-injury and return-to-play concussion assessments at the sideline of sporting events. Backed by evidence-based science, the technology tracks overall concussion health of athletes and provides instant comparison to past test performance. The system enables sports teams to use gold standard concussion tests, but is quicker to use than traditional paper assessments and can be run from any location within minutes. HeadCheck measures a number of key identifiers of a concussion – including symptoms, balance, motor coordination, vision and neurocognitive function. This allows medical professionals such as athletic trainers and doctors to make informed data-driven sideline decisions, limiting 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.


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: www.windsorspitfires.com)


Sarah Allison

BHK – Clinical Exercise Physiology

BSN-PB Student – Nursing (RN)