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Thread: Concussions in Figure Skating

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    Concussions in Figure Skating

    As it has been suggested, I'm starting a new thread for this topic since it took over the Ashley Wagner Body Issue Thread.

    Short and very brief re-cap:
    • Ashley Wagner has had 5 bad concussions that have caused long lasting cognitive issues
    • Evan Lysacek had had 15-20
    • They clearly aren't the only ones to deal with this issue.
    • Helmets get mixed reviews by the GS forum members as they won't protect against all concussions and may even cause other problems
    • Crashe and Ice Halo are options, but not as good protection as a helmet.
    • More research needed



    What should be done to address the issue? Other thoughts?

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    I hit my head and ended my skating career doing crossovers....Now, even if we'd had helmets, I don't think I would have worn it until I started training jumps at my practice sessions. That would be like wearing a helmet to do across the floors in dance class. It's not something you think about. I would imagine that gymnasts could use helmets for training but, even the light ones would be cumbersome while rotating in the air.

    I remember learning a difficult dance lift and my partner was given a helmet. She said it through her off her center making it difficult for her to turn. She was actually more afraid of falling while turning than from our lift. Personally, after getting hit in the mouth TWICE by the helmet while lifting her I was equally afraid of them. If they design a thin helmet that could be wrapped in a soft outer casing, I think that could work. The problem I see is that even with a helmet, a skater who is dropped from an overhead lift will still feel the "Impact" of the fall. That's why football players still get concussions even with the most sophisticated helmets in world.

    Performing in helmets would be as bad as gymnasts or dancers performing in helmets.....It would never work.

    Have you guys seen these? While searching for head protection for figure skaters I found this picture. It's called an Ice Halo There's a thick piece flexible rubber covered by faux fur..:http://www.icehalo.com/admin/include...189&quality=90

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    I remember seeing video of Doug Ladret and Isabelle Duchesnay training in helmets after returning to the ice from head injuries, but well before competition day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    I remember seeing video of Doug Ladret and Isabelle Duchesnay training in helmets after returning to the ice from head injuries, but well before competition day.
    It would be interesting to hear how they felt about training in them. Did they ever discuss it?

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    I think they did briefly in those TV fluff pieces,which don't seem to be available online. You could search as well as I for any articles that might be out there.

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    Bona Fide Member chapis's Avatar
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    About people suggesting that skaters use helmets only in practices. Does not it affect training with a helmet and competing without it? For the jumps. Balance, the center of gravity? aerodynamics?

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    I believe in my predictions Ender's Avatar
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    I would say I am not very scared of single skaters in this aspect. The pair skaters though, have it much harder.

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    All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò! Arriba627's Avatar
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    I worry about spinning as much/if not more than falling. Isn't it true that the spins can also cause concussions? I'm a huge fan of the headless spin but wonder what that might be doing to the brain after being performed over and over again.

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    Because backflips are sexy.... Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arriba627 View Post
    I worry about spinning as much/if not more than falling. Isn't it true that the spins can also cause concussions? I'm a huge fan of the headless spin but wonder what that might be doing to the brain after being performed over and over again.
    Yes. Lucinda Ruh is just one example of skaters who have spoken out about spins and brain issues.

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    My daughter skates on a high level synchro team and it seems we have at least 1 skater a year out for awhile with concussions. We do impact tests which are screenings that are done pre-concussion so that if you do hit your head your doctor has a baseline to compare to. However, after a scary fall recently the parents were talking about the ice halos for practice. However, we know the coach would have to require all skaters to wear them or they never would.

    In synchro it's not the jumps that cause the concussions but often the odd falls, like someone falling out of a triple twizzle or being thrown off the end of a wheel. We recently had a skater in our club quit skating all together after multiple concussions. She was actually wearing the ice halo when she fell the last time and her mother just said that was enough.

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    Totmyanina's concussion...I remember that terrifying moment when her partner Marinin stumbled during lift and dropped her on ice. They are just so lucky and strong, physically and mentally that could continued after that. And not JUST continued.
    My point is even helmets can't help with that kind accidents in pairs skating, which is most dangerous discipline, especially for ladies.

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    Bona Fide Member chapis's Avatar
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    And they should to learn how to fall. It is not possible that someone like Anna P. has only super scary falls.

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    The issue of enforcing rules came up before: Skating federations have no authority over the rinks and therefore might have a hard time enforcing any regulations. What about coach education and enforcement that way? As a parent, if my daughter's coach told me that she really needed padding or other protection, I'd certainly listen to that.

    There still seems to be a big question mark about what head protection would work though. I do think the crashe (http://crasche.com/) is a bit more substantial than the ice halo. But it does have a warning on it that says (paraphrasing) It is better than nothing, but doesn't really protect your head.

    I definitely think ideas about neck strengthening exercises and learning how to fall would help.

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    I think there are a lot of issues mixed in here.

    If a helmet can be designed that would allow for the movement in the sport, it would well be worth it.

    If one could, then athletes brought up wearing them would wear them. Just as kids brought up wearing bicycle helmets wear them as adults.

    If all the athletes were brought up wearing them, they would be learning the skills with the equipment in place and in mind.

    Is the concussion rate in gymnastics and dance as high as it is in skating? Gymnasts at least work above a mat. Ice is such as unforgiving surface and the skaters fly across ice at a faster rate than dancers across a floor.

    Ice dancers do not rotate in the air, but they seem to suffer as many concussions as athletes in the other disciplines. It's clear that head injures are not only caused by jumps and pairs throws, i.e. the elements we think of as the big tricks.

    As many people here have mentioned, I would assume that there is not an effective helmet design for figure skaters at this point in time. My gut says that if there were, then athletes like Hanyu, Gabriella Papadakis, and Josh Farris would be wearing them consistently. Choosing to wear them on a regular basis, rather than worrying about revisiting the challenges and long recovery times they have faced in the past.

    But I do think there is a need. An effective design would really be a valuable tool for the sport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nika09 View Post
    Totmyanina's concussion...I remember that terrifying moment when her partner Marinin stumbled during lift and dropped her on ice. They are just so lucky and strong, physically and mentally that could continued after that. And not JUST continued.
    My point is even helmets can't help with that kind accidents in pairs skating, which is most dangerous discipline, especially for ladies.
    That is exactly the fall I was thinking off. Even with a helmet, the "Impact" of falling onto solid ice from the extended arms of her partner would not have saved her from a concussion. It might have saved her from a cut but, that's it. That's the problem with concussions, the lack of blood..........There's a saying in American football....."He Got His Bell Rung" It basically means that a player has been hit so hard in the head that he doesn't know where his is. However, because they're not bleeding, the trainer rarely checks them out.

    Here's a 5min clip from a documentary called "Bell Rung" it discusses head injuries, concussions and the dementia that they can cause later in life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU2yWKbKawc

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