Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The NHL's standard test for diagnosing concussions

The bad news: This isn't a photo,
it's a live video feed.
Head injuries are in the spotlight again thanks to the surprising news that Sidney Crosby will miss at least a week with a concussion. While the Penguins claim otherwise, many observers suspect that Crosby may have suffered the injury during the Winter Classic and been allowed to play an additional game before sitting out.

Many reports have included speculation about whether Crosby passed concussion-related medical tests prior to playing. But fans may be surprised to learn that those "tests" aren't especially complex. They're actually just a simple one-page multiple choice quiz which has become the league's standard process for diagnosing concussions.

What does that quiz look like? Glad you asked, since I happen to have obtained a copy.

Dear NHL player,

You have recently suffered an injury, which resulted in a direct blow to the head. Congratulations! But before you can play again, you are required by league rules to pass the following in-depth test to ensure that you have not suffered a concussion.

Instructions: Answer each question and then add up your score. If you reach 100 points or more, you have a concussion and should not be playing; print out the results and show them to your coach.

What's the last thing you remember thinking before you were injured?
  • "I think I'll just cut across the blueline with my head down." (+5 points)
  • "What a nice pass I just made, I think I'll admire it." (+10 points)
  • "I'm pretty sure I can squeeze by Chara here…" (+20 points)
  • "Hey wait, why are the linesmen backing off and leaving me all alone with Colton Orr?" (+30 points)
  • "I'll just adjust my rearview mirror and… how did Chris Pronger get into my backseat?" (+100 points)

Which of the following common concussion symptoms have you been experiencing?
  • Slight headache (+5 points)
  • Short-term memory loss (+10 points)
  • Nausea or vomiting (+20 points)
  • Starting to think that the Ilya Kovalchuk signing may have been a good idea (+50 points)
  • Really enjoying those NHL Guardian super hero things (+100 points)

As a result of your injury, are you having any difficulty reading this test?
  • I am experiencing significant difficulty (+20 points)
  • I am experiencing minor difficulty (+10 points)
  • I can understand everything I'm reading (0 points)
  • I can understand everything I'm reading, which is odd since I'm a European player who didn't speak a word of English prior to getting hit (+100 points)

At any point since being injured, have you experienced any of the following symptoms of double vision?
  • There appears to be 8,000 people at tonight's Thrashers game, instead of the usual 4,000 (+10 points)
  • In the family seating area, Philadelphia Flyers fans are furiously waving two fingers at my great-grandmother. (+15 points)
  • During games in Ottawa, there are 12 Senators on the ice looking at their watches and mumbling about whether the season is over yet. (+20 points)
  • Could swear that one of the Canucks keeps passing the puck back and forth with a guy who looks exactly like him (-50 points)

How did the fans react when you were hit?
  • Stunned silence (+5 points)
  • Audible gasps of horror (+10 points)
  • Fight broke out in the upper level between fans trying to catch my mouthguard (+20 points)
  • Started throwing waffles at me, which made no sense. (0 points)
  • Started throwing waffles at me, which made perfect sense. (+100 points)

Has there been any media coverage of your injury?
  • A sportstalk radio caller asked about it. (0 points)
  • A TV report mentioned that I had suffered an upper body injury (+5 points)
  • A newspaper article speculated that I may have suffered a head injury (+10 points)
  • I was featured on an episode of HBO's 24/7 last night, which was subtitled "The Ballad of Concussy McWobble'n'Fall" (+100 points)

Hey, just curious, but you do realize this is hockey and not soccer, right?
  • What? (+20 points)
  • Sigh… yes (-100 points)

Finally, which of the following best describes your current role with your team?
  • I am a role player or fourth liner (+20 points)
  • I take a regular shift (+10 points)
  • I am a star player (0 points)
  • I am a star player and it is the playoffs (Get out there, you're fine. Retake the test in the offseason if you still can't remember your name.)


  1. Once again, the caption is the best part of an otherwise brilliant post. Too bad the National Post readers don't get that added bonus.

  2. Classic. Humor combined with some biting commentary.

  3. i'm surprized the nhl hasn't suspended all teams for making passes at their sweetheart crosby and making his head spin.

  4. It's so wrong to laugh at this post.

    But I'm laughing hysterically. The "double vision" question was my favorite.

  5. Hilarious! :D
    I loved the joke about Ilya Kovalchuk's contract, but maybe the score should have been +1000 if you think that it was a good signing!

  6. If not in Seans Top10 it´s up there in let´s say Top15.

  7. love the blog, and the true and funny look at it, keep it up, and thank you

  8. One of the best yet! We in STL need our boy David Perron to take this test again...

  9. Awesomely entertaining post, but I have to wonder if "You have recently suffered an injury, which resulted in a direct blow to the head," is an intentional joke or a mistake. I can't imagine the trainers smacking Crosby in the head because he tweaked a tendon or something.

  10. Do I have a concussion if I replaced "Sidney Crosby" in the opening line with "Pittsburgh Penguins" and wondered how an entire team could be diagnosed?

  11. "Concussy McWobblenFall" on its own gets this five stars. Awesome.

  12. You mean it isn't impartial? Oh man, you just ruined my hockey experience.

  13. Hahahaha best part was the thrashers attendance one :)

  14. You've done it again. Love the post. Good pick-me-up while killing time in the hospital waiting room. Pronger jokes get me every time.

  15. What happens with the points?

  16. laughing as hard as i can right now........ hope I dont get a concussion :)

  17. I was so pleased to see the double-vision question end the way it did. This test was hysterical!

  18. This may be in poor taste, but I'm pretty sure Max Pacioretty is at a +20 based on question #1.

  19. Just came back to read this and after reading the 3rd answer choice on question #1, I think a revision is due on http://www.downgoesbrown.com/2009/09/accurate-nhl-predictions-hard-but-not.html

  20. This makes me actually feel sorry for Mr. Concussy McWobble'n'Fall. PAlmost makes me wish I hadn't thrown all those waffles at him.