Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Banner, AHSHA partnership a positive for injury management


Obviously, hockey is a contact sport and with that come the risks for injuries and concussions.

The Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) has taken the initiative to prevent, reduce, identify and treat these types of injuries with its partnership with Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists over the past three years.


Mike Steffens is the AHSHA injury management specialist and also a local pharmacist. He’s the lone AHSHA board member with a medical background and wants to utilize that knowledge for the betterment of AHSHA’s players.

“There have been many news stories in recent years about high school football players experiencing two concussions in one game and are now incapable of living an independent life,” said Steffens. “I do not want to see any of our young players sustain permanent brain damage and therefore, I believe it would be safer to have the player sit out until they could be evaluated by a medical professional who would determine when it would be safe for the player to return. Banner shares the belief that a medical professional is better positioned versus a lay person to make that determination.”

The Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Center community outreach coordinator and athletic trainer Sarah Schodrof introduced Steffens to the ImPACT testing system, which is a tool as part of the full medical evaluation to determine when a player has returned to their normal cognitive function and can return to their sport. A diagnosis of a concussion is determined during a multifaceted medical exam by a physician. ImPACT might be a part of the process at that time, but ultimately the diagnosis is made on the physician’s findings during several different tests. As some injuries require different treatment. Rehabilitation is a part of a whole treatment process with the treatment regimen customized to each player.

Since establishing this partnership in 2015, the Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Center has proctored baseline testing for about 1,700 AHSHA players utilizing the ImPACT neurocognitive test.

Banner Health logo PMS 281 (2)

“This test gives us an idea of what a player’s baseline or pre-injury cognitive functioning and is used as one of the many tools as a part of the standard of care for concussion management to determine when a player can return to the ice safely,” said Schodrof. “Along with baseline testing, we also help educate players’ parents and coaches on the signs and symptoms of concussion and dispelling the most common myths about concussion. AHSHA has aligned their concussion policies with the USA Hockey concussion policies and in that process, we have assisted in creating forms to ensure players seek out appropriate care for their injury and provide side line evaluation forms for coaches and team managers to make informed decisions after an injury.

“Our goal with this partnership is to be a resource for AHSHA players, parents and coaches for comprehensive concussion care. The issue of concussions continues to be a hot topic in the sports world and there is a considerable amount of new research continues to be released. From education, baseline testing to post-injury care, we offer parents and players, coaches and team managers resources and care throughout the entire diagnosis and treatment of an injury.”

Steffens noted that concussions are being treated more seriously these days than they ever have been, especially in the hockey realm.

“Concussion symptoms are neither the same for every individual nor is the amount of time the same for different players to be medically ready to return,” said Steffens. “Neurological injuries are harder to manage than fractures, dislocations, etcetera, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. I make a point to make a follow-up call to a parent of every player that I receive an injury report on.

“None of this would have happened without Banner. It was very fortuitous that they were looking to expand their center while I was looking to expand on concussion awareness among AHSHA families, and we made contact with each other.”

— Matt Mackinder

(May 24, 2018)

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