Fit to Play Policy

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Fit-to-Play Policy
Player safety is the top concern in the Northwest Warriors Hockey program.

NWW wants to reduce injuries by minimizing the occurrences of players participating in games or practices when they are not fit to play due to illness or injury. All injuries are of a concern and players should not play injured, but EXTREME caution should be used especially around any concussion or suspected head injury.

Removing from Play - If in doubt, err on the side of caution
Coaches, managers and parents are encouraged to learn about the signs of concussions, but we recognize that coaches and parents typically do not have specialized medical training. When in doubt, remove the child from play and seek a qualified medical opinion. NWW expects that coaches will remove a child from play if they suspect a concussion. This policy sets out the practical steps for coaches to follow in applying this policy.

Injury Assessment
Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY, urgently assessed medically, and should not be left alone until assessed.

Concussion should be suspected in the presence of any one or more of the following:

Symptoms Signs
Headache Abnormal behaviour, More emotional
Sensitivity to noise or light Trouble falling asleep (if applicable)
Drowsiness Poor balance or coordination
Seeing Stars Vacant stare
Confusion, disorientation Sensitivity to light
Nausea or vomiting Fatigue or low energy
Irritability Blurred vision
Dizziness Difficulty remembering
Difficulty concentrating Nervous or Anxious
Sadness Balance problems
Ringing in Ears Slow or slurred speech
Memory Loss Decrease in abilities
Tiredness Vacant Stare

If before or during a game or practice, a player is noticed by a coach to appear to be suffering from suspected concussion signs or symptoms, the coach should first talk to the player and a parent of that player to determine the nature of the injury. If the coach is of the opinion that the condition could be the result of a concussion, the coach has the authority and should declare the player unfit to play and the player shall then not participate, or continue to participate, in the practice or game. The parent and player must accept the determination of the coach for the immediate game or practice.

Return to Play
A player declared unfit to play for injury or suspected concussion, shall not return to the ice without clearance from an appropriate medical practitioner (ideally a medical doctor), stating either that the player does not have an injury or concussion, or that the player has recovered from the injury or concussion and is “cleared for game play ”. Hockey is a contact sport where incidental and accidental contact occurs at all levels, therefore this is a requirement for all age groups.

Further to the Hockey Canada Safety Program, the NW Warriors utilizes the "6 Step Return to Play" protocol for all injuries resulting in a participant missing athletic activities, whether practices or games, it is required for all injuries that resulted in medical attention. The return to play process begins after an appropriate medical practitioner has given the player clearance to return to activity. If any symptoms or signs return during this process, the player must be re-evaluated by the medical practitioner and will restart the protocol.

  1. No activity, only complete mental and physical rest. Proceed to step 2 only when all symptoms are gone.
  2. Light low impact aerobic exercise, such as walking or stationary cycling. Monitor for symptoms and signs.
  3. Sport specific training and aerobic activities – no resistance training, weight-lifting or contact activities.
  4. Sport specific training including resistance training and weight-lifting, but no contact activities. May add light resistance training and progress to heavier weights. Go to step 5 after medical clearance.
  5. Any sport specific training activities including contact drills.
  6. Game play. This should occur after no less than two full contact (2) training events or practices.

This policy is being put in place to empower coaches to make decisions as to whether a player is fit to play hockey. NWW understands that in exercising this discretion coaches are not medically trained to properly assess illnesses, injuries or concussion. While we understand that inconvenience will occur, we have decided that we would rather inconvenience some families, than to allow one player to play when they should not have, due to concussion.

Coaches, managers and parents are encouraged to follow this protocol with all physical injuries, in addition to concussions.