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No concussion education policy for coaches in Canadian collegiate sports

Athletic therapist Jessica Dudas checks up on women’s basketball player Emily Rowlandson before the Falcons’ first game of the season. (JAMES GOLDIE photo)

Reported by James Goldie

For the past four years, college coaches in the United States have received specific training and education for dealing with concussions. At Langara College, this is not the case.

Last week, Harvard University released a study claiming the National Collegiate Athletic Association has not been ensuring that all member institutions comply with concussion-related policies.

However, the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) has no such policies to enforce.

CCAA must work around staffing levels

“At the PacWest [Pacific Western Athletic Association] of the CCAA we tend to be maybe behind the curve a little bit, or maybe a step behind the NCAA,” said Jake McCallum, director of athletics and intramurals at Langara. McCallum attributed this lag to the considerable difference in staffing levels between the Canadian and American associations.

“I would not be surprised to see things changing in the not-too-distant future in terms of maybe having policies in place to receive that kind of training,” said McCallum on the topic of concussion education for coaches.

In the meantime, the association addresses the issue of concussions in other ways.

Sports therapist always available, player safety paramount

“The CCAA [does] more something along the lines of mandating or making sure that we do have someone like an athletic therapist available,” McCallum said.

Jessica Dudas, the athletic therapist for Langara’s sports teams, said PacWest and the CCAA have done a great job ensuring that someone is present at all games who is qualified to assess potential concussions.

“They work with us to make sure that player safety is first and foremost,” Dudas said.

The Langara Falcons fields teams for soccer, basketball, and badminton. They are not full-contact sports, but players can still suffer trauma from “indirect blows” that shake the brain, Dudas said.

Langara coach confident in his experience

Mike Evans, head coach of the women’s basketball team and a former boxer, is no stranger to concussions. Last year, he kept one of his best players off the court for two weeks because of a suspected concussion.

“I’m not taking any chances with anyone who has signs of a concussion,” he said.

Although Evans is not formally required to educate his players about brain trauma, he expressed confidence in their level of knowledge on the subject.

“I think most athletes have had friends or teammates that have had a concussion if they haven’t had them themselves,” Evans said.

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