Blowing whistle against critical sports injuries

Serious injuries during sporting events have been gaining a lot of attention and for all Oswego State sports teams, this situation is something that is not taken lightly.

Advancements have been made to help prevent these injuries and the Oswego State men’s hockey and lacrosse teams they have worked, but there are still areas for improvement.

The biggest concern for all sporting events right now is concussions. New research being done shows that concussions are a direct link to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other serious health concerns.

Because of these facts, teams are no longer taking concussions lightly. They are making sure the proper procedures are performed in the right manner.

The Oswego State men’s hockey team can have anywhere from two to four concussions ranging in severity each year, but that number has decreased from past years.

One of the worst events seen by the team happened years ago when, during practice, a player stepped on a puck and fell backwards, hitting his head on the board. When he woke up he couldn’t remember who he was or where he was and didn’t return to the ice for over a month.

The team doesn’t take any chances when it comes to head injuries. If there are any small signs of a possible concussion a player will be treated right away and cannot even return to practice until that player is fully cleared by the medical staff.

The NCAA has developed a new rule for Division III Men’s Ice Hockey this year where if a player makes contact to the head of another player then the player that made the contact will have to sit out for five minutes. If the player commits the action again then they will be removed from the game.

"I think when guys know that they could be tossed out of the game that’s definitely a deterrent to keep them from following through with making contact with the head," Ed Gosek, head coach for the men’s hockey team, said.

Along with the new rules, advancements in equipment have also been made. Equipment has been made stronger and more shock absorbent because the equipment is supposed to take the energy of the hit and make sure it doesn’t go straight to the area of contact on the player.

"I think we are frivolous with our money, but we buy the best equipment that we can with the budget that we have," Gosek said. "We’re not buying second-class equipment. We are buying top of the line equipment to keep guys from getting injured."

Although these improvements have severely improved all of the protective equipment, one piece of equipment that still needs improvement is the helmet. They have improved over the years, but still lack the new technology that the football and lacrosse helmets have.

Helmets For the Oswego State men’s lacrosse team their helmet has improved immensely over the years with the improvement being a lip added to the back of the helmet which helps prevent concussions to the back of the head.

Just like a hockey helmet, a lacrosse helmet can take multiple hits, but should be refurbished or replaced every couple of years, unless there is some kind of deformation. If that happens, the helmet would be replaced right away along with the player getting attention right away by medical personnel.

The rest of the lacrosse team’s equipment has also advanced over the years when it comes to padding and strength, but one piece of equipment that head coach Ryan Martin believes to be a problem are the sticks.

"Newer sticks have more confined throats, which make it harder for the ball to fall out and it’s causing players to throw really big checks," Martin said. "Checks to the players back and back of their arms have increased due to the big checks that are being thrown, so that has been a concern for college lacrosse and something they are trying to work on."

Martin would like to see lacrosse sticks changed back to how they use a to be, where the ball would come out of the pocket easier. Even though lacrosse may not have as many serious injuries as some sports, there are many things that could happen.

Assistant men’s lacrosse coach Tyler Peworchik recalled a game during his senior year, where a SUNY Cortland lacrosse player was hit in the chest by a ball and ended up dying from the hit.

A ball that hits the chest hard enough at a certain time can cause serious occurrences that could be fatal. This medical phenomenon is called commitio cordis and is 85 percent fatal for people. Chest pads have increased padding and strength in an attempt to limit fatal incidents.

Officials have been trying to cut back the amount of checking going on during the game to make sure that a concussion or any other kind of serious injury is avoided.

Every sport is cracking down on its equipment and rules to make sure it keeps the games as competitive as possible while keeping player safety the number one concern.