Canadians bleed hockey. But it is among the faster and more physical sports out there—and thus, like the equally explosive American football, has drawn recent criticism for concerns around brain injury.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia plan to study concussions in male and female hockey players using a mouthguard equipped with sensors, which they believe to be more accurate than sensors in helmets. The developer of the mouthguard is Dr. Lyndia Wu, an expert in brain injury biomechanics.
The guard has already been used to study concussions in US college football. Now UBC Thunderbird hockey players will don them for their upcoming playoffs.
“We started a five-year collaborative study with the UBC Thunderbirds men’s and women’s hockey teams with two main research goals: to understand how the brain changes after a concussion in sports and how repeated impacts may lead to longer term brain changes,” said Wu.
The mouthguard captures multiple data points, including speed and direction of impact.
Currently, concussions are “part of the game,” according to Graham Thomas, head coach of the women’s hockey team at UBC. There is a lot of work to do before that is no longer the case.
“We’re doing this [research] for the bigger picture and for the benefit of those who come after us,” he noted.
Almost $1 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has been awards to this study.
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