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Protecting young hockey players from concussions, other injuries

Posted at 9:34 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 01:36:02-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — During last night's winning effort over Tampa, Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Carpenter took a massive hit and had to be helped off the ice.

With so many kids across Vegas getting into the sport of hockey, there are questions of what's being done to make sure the players can have fun while also staying safe.

Matt Flynn, who's the senior manager of youth hockey for the Vegas Golden Knights, everything that happens during a Golden Knights game becomes a teachable moment for young players.

"As much as you don't want to use the telestrator to watch Ryan Carpenter get hurt in that situation, it is a teachable moment," said Flynn.

Flynn said coaching the players the right way begins at the earliest levels.

And although hockey is a contact sport, Flynn said that kind of physicality isn't introduced until the players are older and more advanced. And when it is, it's brought in with proper technique.

"There are ways to hit and ways to get hit to prevent injury," said Flynn. "I think we teach all of those in the appropriate time."

Dr. Roddy McGee is an orthopedic surgeon at Total Sports Medicine. He works with both youth and professional athletes and said there are things parents can look out for to help prevent their children from getting injured.

  • Make sure the child's equipment fits properly for both practices and games
  • Make sure your child warms up before he/she gets into the more competitive part of practice or games
  • Monitor for signs of fatigue

"Those are the times when kids are most at risk of injury," said McGee, "so look for things like guys putting their hands on their knees, taking big deep breaths, skating a lot slower, things like that."

McGee says knee, ankle, shoulder and facial injuries are the ones he sees most often in hockey players.

As with any collision sports, McGee says there's a high risk for a concussion, but with awareness, parents can help prevent what's known as the second hit - when a player sustains a second head injury before fully recovered from the first.

As with any sports-related pain or injury, he recommends getting checked out.

"Make sure they're properly evaluated, make sure they have proper recovery before they're back on the field or ice," said McGee.