By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Adam Wedlake, Executive Director of Basketball Manitoba for the last 25 years, has noticed a recent change in the concussion side of basketball and within sport in general.
“Only in the last 10 years have concussions started to become on the radar, and only in the last few years have they been discussed more in sport and amongst athletes,” Adam said.
For Basketball Manitoba athlete Ayva Khan, a concussion is something she is familiar with.
Just a year ago, she sustained a concussion during a basketball game.
“The player’s elbow came down into my face,” she said. “I knew I did not feel right and removed myself from the game.”
Adam said concussions sustained in basketball are likely from undercutting, a hard fall, or, as in Ayva’s case, an elbow blow to the head.
“I immediately felt a throbbing pain in my face and as I walked off the court, I felt quite dizzy,” said Ayva.
Luckily her teammate’s Dad is a doctor and was able to identify Ayva’s symptoms and the right protocols for her going forward.
She took three weeks to properly follow the steps to return to sport.
With multiple days without screens, homework or working out, gradually, she was able to reintroduce these things back into her routine.
If any symptoms occurred, she reduced the activity and began the steps again from the start.
A Proactive Approach: Basketballconcussion.ca
In 2019, Basketball Manitoba launched a new website dedicated entirely to concussions called Basketball Manitoba Concussion Education and Resource Centre.
Now, basketball athletes, coaches and parents can access an accurate and informative platform that is tailored to concussions in their sport.
“Concussions are not a big discussion in basketball and this is the reason for creating the website,” said Adam.
While Adam usually likes to brag about basketball being in the top rankings, he doesn’t like to brag that basketball is tied third with soccer in driving the most athletes to concussion clinics.
The website also has teaching points that can help coaches and players prevent a concussion by educating them on the possibilities of a head injury during a game or practice.
And although the website is tailored to basketball, anyone can access and use it. It provides general information, too, including the signs and symptoms of a concussion that everyone should know.
Remembering the R’s
Adam said Reduce is the focal point since “reduction is the best cure”.
Reduce is further subdivided for coaches, athletes, parents and officials, covering all areas of the court.
For example, it is important for parents to be observant and aware during games and practices. They see another angle of the court that the coach and official may not.
“If a parent witnesses a hard hit or elbow to the head, it is important they reach out to either the coach or official, no matter the team or player as it is in the best interest of that player’s safety,” said Adam.
Recognize & Remove focus on the signs and symptoms of concussion and removing yourself from the activity right away. Refer & Recover are about getting the appropriate medical attention and recovery plan.
Lastly, under Return is the letter of clearance from an athlete’s doctor that is required by Sport Manitoba sports in order to return to sport.
No athlete who has been diagnosed with a concussion can return to play without it.
Adam said this takes the ultimate decision out of volunteer coaches’ hands.
You can find the letter of clearance here.
Spreading the Word
Adam is passionate about the safety of all athletes, no matter which sport they play.
“Concussions are not just a basketball, hockey or football problem,” he said. “They are a sport problem.”
Ayva believes the new website is an important tool in generating awareness.
“The new website helps athletes, and people in general, become more aware that concussions shouldn’t be taken lightly. It gives people more resources to be sure that they are being safe, and to properly rehab. I want people to know it is not just an injury, and it may not seem severe, but it is severe and the rehab is the most important part.”
With this information, we hope concussion questions can be answered and basketball athletes (and all athletes) can stay safe.