MONTREAL -- When it comes to concussions, one thing is clear.
It's better not to get one because there are no cures, especially for the potential long-term effects of repeated concussions.
So, in the interest of prevention, attention has turned to equipment.
The role of the mouthguard in the prevention of concussions has been studied and while it would seem to make sense mouthguards could mitigate the potential severity of a concussion, attendees at the recent Hockey Canada Concussion Seminar heard there is no scientific evidence a mouthguard can prevent a concussion.
There is some thought a high-quality, professionally-fitted mouthguard might absorb some of the force in the case of a blow to the jaw that could result in a concussion. It's also suggested the act of biting on a mouthguard could activate the jaw and neck muscles and help stabilize the head, reducing the potential jiggle effect of the brain inside the skull in the event of the blow.
"Absence of proof is not proof of absence, and more research and study is needed," Dr. Paul Piccininni, a member of both the IIHF Medical Committee and the IOC Medical Commission, told the concussion seminar.
As far as the performance-enhancing claims from some mouthguard manufacturers, Piccininni said, "there is no scientific evidence other than they make you poorer."