PATIENCE IS KEY FOR PLAYERS IN RECOVERING AFTER CONCUSSIONS
By KATE CRANDALL THE GAZETTE
As freshmen, Colorado College players take a cognitive test that measures mental facets such as memory in order to establish a baseline. Once a player suspects a concussion, he will retake the test to get an indication of his neurological health. If the player is diagnosed with a concussion, he is put on rest. Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical officer for USA Hockey, said even reading and TV watching are discouraged. “The safe way is to recognize the concussion symptoms, give the brain a chance to rest and heal, gradually return to play and that gives you the best chance of being able to compete for the rest of the season,” Stuart said. Unlike most hockey injuries, which have somewhat predictable timetables for healing with ice and heat and can be patched up with tape, concussions require patience. “It’s weird because you feel like you’re not doing anything for it, but you’re healing,” said left wing Scott Thauwald, who is recovering from a Feb. 9 concussion. “Also, besides headache and fogginess, there’s no pain involved. So, at times, you feel like you’re fine and you could be skating, but you can’t. It’s a weird injury. All you can do is basically do nothing. That’s what heals it.” When the symptoms such as headaches or dizziness subside, the player tries riding the stationary bike. Next, the player will be allowed to start skating, first alone, then with the team in non-contact drills. However, if symptoms creep back in at any point, the player has to return to the previous level until he is symptom-free for 24 hours. Jimmy Kilpatrick, who missed two weeks because of a concussion, only made it through a few minutes of a practice a few days later before he realized he was rushing things. “My alertness wasn’t what it should be,” said Kilpatrick, who resumed practice this week and is expected to play this weekend against No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth. “My fogginess wasn’t all gone, but it was pretty much gone. My vision is one of my assets and I just didn’t have that.” Once the player can progress without experiencing symptoms, he will be cleared for full-contact practice and, finally, competition.