Hushed All-Stars stall concussion talks for NHL; New research calms raising concerns for Winter Olympic competitors; Revamped return-to-play protocols keep athletes optimistic; Elana Meyers Taylor helps athletes avoid her concussion missteps

The New York Times | Curtis Rush: Paul Kariya’s reluctance to speak out against the National Hockey League’s poor concussion management during his Hall of Fame induction speech highlights the turbulent road ahead for better league-wide concussion protocol, prevention and management. Despite hockey being the sport with the second most recorded concussions, the NHL has not acknowledged a link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in fear of financial ramifications. Looking back on how postconcussion symptoms shortened their careers, Kariya and other players see a better future for the next generation of athletes.

Paul Kariya celebrates after sending Predators to overtime
Paul Kariya sends Predators to overtime. (Kevin Batangan/Flickr)

CBC Sports | Jamie Strashin: Without a centralized database for athletes who have suffered a concussion, organizations are finding alternative ways to gauge the severity of the growing concussion problem in Winter Olympic athletes. A third of Canada’s 2018 Olympic athletes have suffered a concussion at some point in their quest to the games, according to a recent survey by CBC Sports. New research is shedding light into the ways that concussions can be hidden behind other common diagnoses, as in the case of ski-cross racer Brady Leman who was initially only treated for whiplash after crashing in early 2017. More concerned than ever about the long-term risks of these incidents, athletes now are becoming more cautious in their training to prevent injuries while competing. Fortunately, the discourse on head injuries in the Winter Games is changing the culture of fear that used to linger around Olympic athletes.

CBC Sports | Jamie Strashin: Olympic gold medalist and slopestyle skier Dara Howell suffered with concussion symptoms for four years after a misdiagnosed hit to the head due in large part to the lack of proper return-to-play protocols for the Winter Games. In the time since, most national sport organizations have put in place safer guidelines for athletes, including immediate removal of any athlete suspected of suffering a concussion. With measured steps like these and a doctor’s signature needed to return to competition, some athletes are afraid to report their symptoms, but former Olympian Steve Podborski is optimistic about the direction of athlete safety in the 2018 Games.

Dara Howell holds up her gold medal
Dara Howell celebrates with her gold medal during a ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 11, 2014. (Trường Linh Đường/Flickr)

Concussion Legacy Foundation | Michael Burke: In an attempt to raise more awareness to her “invisible injury,” Elana Meyers Taylor will be wearing the Concussion Legacy Foundation logo on her helmet during this year’s IBSF bobsleigh World Cup as she prepares to return to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Meyers Taylor’s career took a skid in 2015 when she suffered a concussion that would lead to her dropping out of the World Cup the following year. The insight she gained on her journey to recovery changed the way she thinks about concussions, and now she aims to help inform those she competes with.