Ken Bocking, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, of St. Thomas, Ontario is the recipient of the 2011 Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund Award given to a Canadian who has contributed significantly to the prevention of catastrophic injuries in sport and recreation.
Dr. Bocking graduated medicine in 1975 from the University of Western Ontario. He established a practice in St. Thomas and became Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital but his avocation was amateur hockey where he coached and later served as physician to the St. Thomas Stars junior B where his observations set him on a course that changed hockey.
“Ás a team doctor, I saw at least four to six concussions a year of varying degrees from severe to major,” he says. And when his son Steven suffered two concussions followed by post concussion syndrome, he could no longer remain silent.
He was horrified and broke ranks. Dr. Bocking wrote to Ontario Hockey Association president Brent Ladds in the mid 1990s when people believed concussions were just part of the game. Ladds convened a meeting between Dr. Bocking, himself and safety expert Dr. Pat Bishop.
“At that time there were no rules against hits to the head,” Dr. Bishop recalls. “Dr. Bocking wanted to stop the concussion parade. He is clearly the guy who brought the concussion problem to hockey.”
The crusade began with Bocking’s persistence. A Committee including Dr. Bocking, Ladds, Bishop, Dr. Tom Pashby and three others formed a committee in 1999-2000 designed to penalize and reduce checks to the head.
The result was the OHA becoming the first hockey association to put a “no head checking” rule on the books. Dr. Bockings continued his mission working with Ladds who had the voice at Canadian Hockey Association meetings. A couple of years later, Hockey Canada followed suit. The men also lobbied the NHLPA.
Dr. Bocking’s outstanding commitment towards eliminating hits to the head continues today as he volunteers his time as a speaker and advocate for the prevention of catastrophic injuries related to hits to the head.
This year Hockey Canada has implemented a no tolerance to hits to the head.
Read the full press release.