Magazine article Science News

A Check on Youth Hockey Injuries: More Concussions Reported in Leagues with Body Checking

Magazine article Science News

A Check on Youth Hockey Injuries: More Concussions Reported in Leagues with Body Checking

Article excerpt

Children playing ice hockey in leagues that permit body checking have more concussions and other injuries than do youngsters in leagues that prohibit checking, a Canadian study of preteens shows. The work appears in the June 9 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Checking in hockey is akin to blocking in football. But in hockey it's a defensive hit, in which a player attempts to stop or limit the progress of an offensive player who has the puck. While a check cannot be delivered with the elbows, knees or a hockey stick, it can involve a violent collision. Some youth leagues disallow checks among preteens, and in the late 1980s the entire province of Quebec banned checking for all players ages 12 and under.

Researchers enlisted 76 youth hockey teams in Quebec and 74 in Alberta, where checking is still allowed, in the new study. Each team had a physical trainer or other adult who recorded injuries to the team's players during an entire season's games and practices. The study included more than 1,000 players in each province. All children were ages 11 or 12, a group referred to in Canada as the Pee Wee League. Nearly all were boys, and all wore helmets and mouth guards.

There were 209 injuries, including 73 concussions, during games involving the Alberta players. The Quebec teams, which don't allow checking, suffered 70 game-related injuries, of which 20 were concussions. Doctors verified the injuries. Among the Alberta players, checking was involved in the majority of injuries. …

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