Rochester native and former NHL player Shjon Podein joined doctors, scientists, coaches and other officials for Mayo Clinic's Ice Hockey Summit III: Action on Concussion.
The event, which runs Thursday through Friday at Phillips Hall inside the Siebens Building, is a chance for experts and retired athletes to discuss the latest on concussions. Topics include prevention, diagnosis, treatment and future research. The participants will then come up with recommendations to improve the safety of the sport.
Past recommendations have helped foster rule changes -- including penalties for all hits to the head, a delay in body checking until the 14-and-under level, and the elimination of dangerous acts (such as checking from behind), according to a news release from Mayo Clinic.
"Ultimately, we're coming together to make the sport safer for our athletes," said Dr. Michael Stuart, an orthopedic surgeon and co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. "Athletes at all levels are bigger, stronger and faster. Therefore, we must improve our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent traumatic brain injury."
"To reduce concussions in hockey, we must change the mindset and behavior of players, coaches and fans," said Dr. Aynsley Smith, a sport and exercise psychologist and concussion investigator at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. "From a young age, athletes need to learn proper body control and stick play to shift the focus from checking to improving skills. We are making progress, but there is more to do."
Podein agrees it's important for the research to continue.
"I was 12 years old and I dove for the puck and ended up going into convulsions, knocked out. Might have been a concussion. That was just kind of normal life back when I was coming up through it," Podein recalled. "And it wasn't as heavily looked into as it is today. When I see what Dr. Stuart and Dr. Smith are doing and all these people here at the Mayo Clinic, it's a Godsend for when I look at my son and daughter who are now coming up through it, because I just wouldn't want them to have to go through the same things that could have life effects on them."
On Friday morning, participants will vote on the most important topics discussed at the summit to develop an action plan moving forward.