Illegal hits contribute to many youth hockey concussions: study

Pittsburgh – Nearly half of all concussions among youth hockey players are caused by illegal contact, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Researchers evaluated nearly 400 ice hockey players between 12 and 18 years old during the course of two seasons. Out of a total of 12,784 practices and 10,585 games, 37 medically diagnosed concussions occurred.

Overall, concussions among youth hockey players occurred at a comparable incidence rate to other youth collision sports, according to the study. However, the incidence rate ratio for concussions among hockey players was higher during games than practices.

More than 40 percent of the concussions involved illegal contact that resulted in a penalty, which researchers said supports the need for more stringent enforcement of penalties. Additionally, leagues that allow players younger than 15 years old to check had a higher concussion rate than leagues prohibiting checking.

The study results were published online Jan. 7 in the journal Pediatrics.

Hockey injuries such as concussions can occur when players wear inappropriate or ill-fitting equipment, don’t follow the rules, or exhibit violent behavior, according to UPMC. Signs of a concussion include headaches, visual problems, fatigue and nausea. If a player is suspected of having a concussion, they should be medically evaluated, UPMC states.

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