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Coquitlam Express taking care of players’ brains

The Coquitlam Express hockey team is taking further steps to ensure the brain health of its players, by partnering with the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic.
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The Coquitlam Express hockey team is taking a new initiative to safeguard the brain health of its players through a new partnership with the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic.

The Coquitlam Express wants to ensure its players can keep their heads in the game. And even after they're done with the sport.

The BC Hockey League team is partnering with the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic to implement a program to measure the effects of hits based upon a performance baseline.

The data will allow doctors, counsellors, kinesiologists kinesiologists and therapists to put together rehabilitation and return-to-play plans for players who have suffered a concussion or an accumulation of hits not quite severe enough to cause a concussion.

Express general manager Tali Campbell said the relationship allows the team to build on the BCHL’s partnership with HeadCheck Health that launched in 2017 and provides trainers with tools to assess players for a possible concussion right at the bench or in the dressing room.

The HeadCheck app, which can be used on a phone or tablet, consists of a series of tests that measure a player’s balance, cognition and memory; the score is then compared to a baseline taken during the preseason.

HeadCheck Health is currently being used by more than 800 teams and organizations including the Canadian Junior Hockey League, Alberta Female Hockey League, Canadian Football League, Rugby Ontario, Volleyball Canada as well as the Western Lacrosse Association and BC Junior A Lacrosse League.

Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a neuroscientist and president of HealthTech Connex that runs the Surrey clinic, said arming the players, trainers and doctors with as much information as they can about players’ brain health will help ensure they stay healthy — long after they leave the game.

“The Express prioritized that they want to ensure their athletes leave the organization with not only healthy brains but sharper minds,” D’Arcy said in a press release. “We are excited to help in such a vital mission.”

Campbell said the team has a responsibility to keep its players’ brains healthy as many are using the sport to obtain post-secondary scholarships. “We provide our players with all of the necessities to become better players, better people and assistance in chasing their dream.”

Meanwhile, the Express put a halt to the team’s nine-game losing streak in a big way Monday, downing the Powell River Kings 8-2 at the Scotia Barn in Burnaby.

Christian MacDougall scored three goals and Tyler Schleppe had a goal and three assists to lead Coquitlam’s biggest offensive effort of the pod season that concludes on Sunday.

The Express led 2-0 at the end of the first period, 5-1 going into the second intermission, then extended their advantage to 8-1 before Powell River’s Owen Barrow scored the Kings’ second goal with just 17 seconds remaining in the game.

Jaden Little stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced in Coquitlam’s net to earn his first victory after four losses.

The Express and Kings play again Saturday afternoon before Coquitlam wraps up the five-week pod season against the Surrey Eagles on Sunday.