The Sports Doc: On a mission to prevent hockey injuries

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Welcome to MiHockey’s new column, featuring Dr. Jeff S. Pierce, a Michigan Board Certified Doctor specializing in Sports and Rehabilitation. Dr. Pierce will discuss all things hockey and keeping players healthy and injury free on and off the ice.

As I was preparing to write my first article as The Sports Doc, I was debating over which topic to start out with. That afternoon, an injured hockey player, in an adult league at Troy Sports Center, walked into my office, still in his hockey gear with ice on his wrist, asking to be seen by a doctor (my medical practice is located on the 2nd floor of the Troy Sports Center). He took a hit into the boards and went in with his hand up to try to help slow his progress, fracturing his thumb. His response was instinctive, but not helpful to protect himself. This incident affirmed the first topic choice – preventing hockey injuries.

As a sports medicine specialist, my goal is to provide proper treatments and injury prevention education to athletes of all levels to keep them performing their best. Some of the injuries are just unavoidable and unfortunate; but some of these injuries are preventable. As fans of the game, as parents and coaches, trainers and doctors, it is our responsibility to provide the safest environment and proper training for kids to play the game of hockey (and all sports).

Dr. Jeff S. Pierce serves as Medical Director of the Michigan Sports & Spine Center. For more information on the MSSC, visit their official website by clicking the image above.
Dr. Jeff S. Pierce serves as Medical Director of the Michigan Sports & Spine Center. For more information on the MSSC, visit their official website by clicking the image above.

As players are getting bigger and finding ways to get faster, the equipment is changing and getting better; rules are changing to try to stop hits from behind and hits to the head; but injuries are still occurring. With continual changes, though, the game can become safer. One innovative safety feature is a change in the ice that could help prevent injuries, concussions and even season or career-ending injuries – the Look-Up Line™.

The Look-Up Line™ takes a preventive approach to injuries that are caused by the boards, and it’s a game changer for hockey safety. It is ice hockey’s warning track, a 40-inch wide orange line extending around the entire circumference of the rink. It does not interfere with any current on-ice markings or affect the speed, intensity or heritage of the game. Its purpose is to decrease the risk of injuries along the boards and to teach players to keep their heads up so they don’t sustain a concussion or severe injury if pushed or checked into the boards. It provides a visual cue when approaching the boards, giving players time to make adjustments to prevent injury. It is essentially the same safety concept as the warning track in baseball, implemented by the MLB back in 1949; the NFL moving the goalposts to the back of the end zone in 1974; and the NBA evolving its hoop to the current padded L-shaped framing posts, all to ensure player safety.

After being involved with the installation of the first Look-Up Line™ in Michigan at the Berkley Ice Arena, I, along with an advisory board that consists of hockey insiders, are trying to get this safety feature installed in every rink in Michigan, with the goal of making ice hockey safer for everyone.

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Unfortunately, we can’t prevent all injuries, so if an injury does occur, it’s important to know when to stop playing and rest or when to seek medical attention. There are several factors when deciding whether to see a doctor right away or to rest and rehab at home.

See a doctor right away if:

  • The pain lasts longer than three days
  • Symptoms do not go away after rest or symptoms worsen
  • You have severe pain and cannot put your weight on the injured part
  • The injured area looks deformed (other than swelling)
  • You cannot move the injured area or walk normally without pain
  • You have numbness in any part of the injured area or somewhere near the injured area
  • There was a loss of consciousness
  • You have any questions about the severity of the injury or how to care for it

If you or your doctor decide it’s an injury that can be taken care of with rest and rehab; it’s important to make sure the injury is healed before returning to activities.

We will be addressing all types of common sports injuries, treatments, rehab programs, preventative measures, strength/off-ice training, hydration and proper nutrition right here in each issue. We want to make sure you know when and where to get the proper treatment, rehabilitation and all the information you need to stay healthy, safe and injury-free.

If there is a topic you would like to see covered, or you have a question for The Sports Doc, please submit them to drjeffpierce@gmail.com.

If you would like more information on the Look-Up Line™ email us at preventhockeyinjuries@gmail.com.

Meet The Sports Doc

Dr. Jeff S. Pierce serves as Medical Director of the Michigan Sports & Spine Center specializing in comprehensive treatment programs for spine, musculoskeletal and joint injuries including sports and occupational problems. Dr. Pierce treats all types of athletes of all ages and levels and has worked with several professional athletes, including the Detroit Red Wings; has served as team physician for several organizations; and team physician for several elite hockey teams including Belle Tire, Little Caesars, and Oakland Junior Grizzlies. He has also become the doctor of choice for entertainers, with many now referring to him as “Doc Rock”. You don’t need to be a professional to see Dr. Pierce; every patient that comes through the door receives the same VIP treatment and excellence in care.

Contact Dr. Pierce at 248-680-9000, drjeffpierce@gmail.com or at www.MichiganSportsandSpine.com to schedule an appointment or consultation about your injury or rehabilitation.

MiHockey Staff

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