I have to admit it: the first time I saw someone wearing one of those protective headgear pieces at a curling club, I had no idea what it was. I thought maybe it was a head warmer or something.
But these days, the Ice Halo and Sport Band may not be exactly commonplace, but it certainly is more usual than unusual.
And now, the inventor of the Ice Halo is being recognized. Barbara Armstrong of Barrie won a Barrie Business Award for her invention which is sold in 15 countries. Armstrong came up with the idea out of necessity, as Simcoe.com explained:
“I was at the Barrie Curling Club, it was my first game,”said Armstrong. “I slipped and fell and got a serious concussion.”It wasn’t her first concussion, either.Armstrong said she was “out” for three months,then decided she had to do something about it.She created a protective headband, which shenamed Ice Halo.
I have seen scores of people slip and fall over the years but I hadn’t seen anyone hurt their head until playing in a bonspiel a few years ago at a Toronto club. A hard takeout from another sheet just ticked a rock and shot over to another sheet where a sweeper preparing to slide out alongside the next stone had his feet taken out from under him. He landed hard, hit his head and blood started coming out.
Thankfully, the gentleman turned out to be OK, but just seeing the blood on the ice and him being carted off on a stretcher by the paramedics was enough to shake me up.
Of course it wasn’t enough to get me to wear the Ice Halo. I guess like a lot of curlers, my ego is bigger than my sensibility.
For those in Ontario reading this, there’s also a great article by Rory Munro in the Ontario Curling Report this month on a team of London women who have embraced the Ice Halo and even started dressing them up, adding decorations to them.
The team is headed up by Dr. Shannon Venance, a neurologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Neurological Sciences at Western University. She noted the increasing number of falls in her league.
“Last year we had three or four women we curl with take unexpected falls on the ice with significant whacks to the back of their heads. It’s just such a horrifying sound when you hear it,” Venance told Munro. “There were goose eggs, concussions; two of them were out of curling for two to three weeks,” said the fifth-year curler.
“Part of what I do as a neurologist is thinking about the brain and the safety of the brain. Concussion in sport is really in the news these days and a concussion can be debilitating. Some people don’t ever recover,” said the doctor.
That’s scary stuff, to be sure. But will it drive more people to wear the Ice Halos? It’s an interesting and increasingly important question that curlers need to ask.