High school coaches and administrators in B.C. are now required to take concussion training, according to B.C. School Sports, the body that governs high school sport in the province.
The training was previously mandatory for coaches in football and rugby, but it has now been extended to all sports, says Jordan Abney, the executive director of B.C. School Sports.
"We really wanted to make sure that regardless of what sport any student was participating in, we could provide an environment that people are trained to identify, prevent and handle concussions properly," Abney said.
Abney says there are more than 70,000 student athletes across the province who participate in 19 different sporting activities. He estimates there are about 7,000 coaches, assistant coaches, student trainers, and other administrators responsible for helping deliver school sports who will undergo the training.
The training module — the Concussion Awareness Training Tool — was developed at B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver.
He says this is the first step in creating more concussion awareness. Others involved in sports, including student athletes, will also be encouraged to take the training module, though it isn't mandatory for them — yet.
"Whether we get to the point where we mandate it for all 70,000 student athletes, that's a discussion our membership will have in the future," he said.
One thing the training module won't get into, however, is the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. The disease is caused by repeated hits to the head, and is more common in those who have played contact sports like football, rugby and hockey.
Dr. Shelina Babul, who developed the test, says there are still many unknowns related to chronic degenerative diseases like CTE, but when more research is available over the next few years, they will be added to the module.
Abney says he hopes that this training and adaptations to equipment and rules of play can ultimately create a safer environment for student athletes so they can benefit from its many positives, like learning teamwork, leadership skills and community involvement.
"Obviously there's risk [in school sport] and we do everything we can to minimize that, mitigate that, but at the same time, there's still a tremendous benefit to participating in these activities."