University of Calgary

Bodychecking triples injury risk in Pee Wee hockey


New study compares ratesof injury between young players in Alberta and Quebec leagues

Bodychecking in Pee Weehockey (with players aged 11-12) more than triples the risk of concussion and injury,according to a new study by researchers at the University of Calgary.

The researchers comparedrates of injury between Alberta Pee Wee leagues, which allow bodychecking, andQuebec Leagues, which don’t. The study followed 74 Alberta teams (1,108players) and 76 Quebec teams (1,046 players) for a season, recording how andwhen injuries occurred during a game.

“I felt it was importantto get some facts,” says Carolyn Emery PhD, who is a sport epidemiologist, a physiotherapist, as well as a coach and hockey parent. “The two leagues provided an excellent opportunity to study the public health impactof concussion and injury associated with body checking, and the facts speak forthemselves.” Emery is a professor in the University of Calgary’s Faculty ofKinesiology and Faculty of Medicine and is funded by Alberta Innovates – HealthSolutions.

This is the first study of its kind touse valid injury surveillance and injury assessment by team physiotherapistsand athletic therapists, along with follow-up by sport medicine physicians.

The findings showed thatAlberta Pee Wee players suffered 209 injuries compared to only 70 for Quebecplayers; the ratio was similar for other categories such as severe injury (73 –20), concussion (73 – 20), and severe concussion (14 – 4).

The research, which was donein collaboration with researchers from McGill University and Laval University,will be published in the June 9th edition of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bodychecking in minor hockeyis a volatile and complex issue with strong advocates on either side of thedebate. Last winter Calgary Pee Wee hockey player Ash Kolstad was flattened bya blow to the head and sustained a severe concussion.

Due to post concussionsymptoms he has been unable to resume his normal life and only recentlyreturned to school. “I feel that bodychecking is part of the game,” saysRosalie Kolstad, “but I’m not sure if it needs to be a part of the game at thePee Wee level.”

For her part, Dr. Emeryhopes that her research will open a dialogue on whether checking should beallowed at all levels of Pee Wee Hockey.

“The public health impactis clear—if bodychecking were eliminated in Alberta Pee Wee, it is estimatedthat out of the 8,826 players registered, we could prevent over 1,000game-related injuries per year and over 400 game-related concussions per year.”

This research was funded in part through a grant fromthe Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Max Bell Foundation.

 

Media contact:

Don McSwiney

Director of Communications, Faculty of Kinesiology

W: 403.220.7652 | C: 403.852.7652 | E: don.mcswiney@ucalgary.ca

(French Media are encouragedto call Dr. Claude Goulet, aco-author on the study from LavalUniversity who will be available for phone interviews at: 418.656.3870)

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