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Tampa Bay Lightening Goaltender suffers from Stiff Neck, not Concussion

Posted Jan 16 2010 12:00am

In my home country of Canada, Ice Hockey is a very popular sport. A fast paced collision sport, there are bound to be injuries involved. So many possible ways to be injured: against another player, against the outside boards, against the goal posts just to name a few. And don’t forget that injuries can involve the skate blade, the hockey stick, the puck- what a risky, yet exciting sport.

Recently I read that Mike Smith who plays for the Tampa Bay Lightening team has been absent because from his goal tending duties because of a stiff neck.Lightening Goaltender Mike Smith suffers Cervical Strain, not a concussion this time

"The main thing was I had stinging feeling in my neck, and it was obviously a concern especially after what happened last year," Smith said. "At least it wasn't my head, and I know the symptoms, I know what goes on and have a better understanding of why my vision was what it was. ... So right now it's just getting the neck feeling better and that will take care of all the rest of what's going on with my vision."

What Mike Smith is referring to is a concussion. Having suffered a concussion in the past, he knows the symptoms all too well. Last season he was not able to play in the final two months because he suffered a concussion. This time he was lucky- just a cervical strain after player Brooks Laich from Washington smashed into him on Tuesday.

What exactly is a concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain, that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body. The power of the blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from working normally.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

  • Passing out
  • Memory loss after the incident.
  • Confusion- repeating the same question over and over
  • Slurring words
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurry vision,
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seeing Stars
  • Not being able to stand or walk
  • having coordination and balance problems
  • Nausea or Vomiting

What is important to consider is what happens after an injury such as this. Post Concussion symptoms can appear and be very serious. Even Mike Smith knew this. He took himself out of the game in fear of making the situation worse. He did not play in the second period just in case.

"It's not anything like a concussion symptom, it's more like those black dots I had that are still kind of lingering around and when things get tightened up in the back of my neck those tend to get a little worse," he said. "I felt it was better to be safe than sorry (to come out). I didn't want to play with something for two months again with something and then have something go really wrong."

What are the symptoms of a post-concussive syndrome ?

  • Changes in your ability to think, concentrate, or remember.
  • Headaches
  • Blurry Vision
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping constantly
  • Changes in personality such as becoming angry or anxious for no reason
  • Lack of interest in your usual activities
  • Changes in your sex drive
  • Dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • Balance difficulties

At the level that Mike Smith is playing injuries are quite common. Limiting injuries to the head are important for long term health. Players (especially in high contact sports like hockey) have to be careful with repeated concussions because it can lead to severe brain disease. Injury to the brain can cause long term damage. Studies have shown that players who had multiple concussions suffered emotional and behavioral problems after their playing days were over, often culminating in erratic behavior, drug abuse and suicide or overdose.

As of right now, Mike Smith is taking it easy. Even with a diagnosis of cervical strain, rest and treatment are important.


Picture Source: The National Hockey League

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