Multi-Prong Approach Needed to Make Canadian Youth Hockey Safer

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In a sport such as hockey, in which hitting is a part of the game, it is important that young players are taught proper bodychecking technique. Multiple concussions, especially if they occur in close succession, can have long-term health consequences for young athletes, and on-ice head injuries are often caused by improper bodychecks and headshots.

Throughout Canada, school districts and other organizations, including Gluckstein Lawyers, continue to provide information to parents, coaches, teachers and players about how to prevent, recognize and treat brain trauma in young athletes.

In addition to teaching proper technique, youth players have to understand that the purpose of hitting is not to hurt. A proper and legal bodycheck can be effective without injuring either player.

One 18-year-old student in Paris, Ontario, recently described in a news report how he was forced to miss the second semester of Grade 11 because of an on-ice head injury. In fact, by that point, he had suffered two concussions on the ice, but he said the second was due to a "cheap shot."

The young man was elbowed in the back of the head by another player and consequently suffered a number of concussion-related symptoms, including sudden headaches and extreme sensitivity to light. He went on to say that some players have an "attitude problem," perhaps especially at the end of the season during tournament play, when some players get on the ice with the intention of getting a suspension "because they know they are never going to have to serve it."

Making youth hockey safer requires a proactive, multi-prong approach. In addition to training players in proper bodychecking technique and changing the damaging cultural aspects of the game, there must be proper assessment, treatment and return-to-play protocol with regard to concussions.

For example, the Impact test, which measures reaction time, visual memory and processing speed, is becoming standardized in Canada. Players are tested in the off-season to establish individual norms, and those norms are compared with cognitive functions after a suspected head injury.

In one of our recent posts, we discussed an Ontario school district with a new curriculum that teaches students specifically about concussions. Students there have taken a particular interest in concussions as they relate to youth sports.

REFERENCES:, "Hitting where it doesn't hurt," Sean Allen, Nov. 3, 2014, "Hitting where it doesn't hurt," Sean Allen, Nov. 3, 2014


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