Coddlin’ the noggin
Impact Lab looks to prevent head trauma
It is no secret that concern is rapidly increasing around the growing number of athletes suffering from sport-related concussions. Studies are emerging, detailing just how serious concussions are and the long and short-term effects on athletes’ brains are staggering.
As a result of this growing concern, WinSport, a not-for-profit organization focused on the development and maintenance of winter sports in Canada, opened the doors to the first stage of their Impact Lab on Dec. 14, 2012.
“Our goal is to be recognized as the expert safety centre, first in Calgary, then the rest of the country,” says WinSport president and CEO Dan O’Neill of the facility. “You’ll be able to count on us to keep you protected.”
The Impact Lab, the first of its kind, will be an interactive hub that will provide athletes with a chance to be educated on the science behind concussions, as well as the importance of properly fitting equipment.
It will feature interactive displays a high-velocity impact tests for helmets and eye equipment, as well as a retail store featuring equipment from top safety manufacturing brands such as Oakley or Giro.
There is also access to medical personnel at the Impact Lab, providing baseline evaluation of impacts to the head and other head traumas, with the potential of furthur concussion testing at the Medical Clinic and High Performance Training Centre when it opens at the Markin MacPhail Centre next year.
Dr. Stephen Norris, WinSport’s vice-president of sport, explained that “the concept behind the Impact Lab is to provide parents and sport participants with a venue to go to where they will be provided with the knowledge and guidance concerning their eventual choice of protective wear.”
“Aspects such as helmet fit and comfort are important if such devices are going to be effective,” he said. “Looking ‘cool’ doesn’t do anyone any good if the helmet, goggles, or protective clothing cannot actually perform the task they are designed to do.”
Currently, the Impact Lab is limited to a primary focus on ski and snowboard helmets and goggles, but plans are in the works for a similar facility focused on hockey and mouth guards, scheduled to open in the spring.