The November 2010 issue of Neurosurgical Focus illustrates concern for young players in Canadian junior ice hockey as researchers have uncovered alarming data and trends regarding head injuries and concussions.
"The aftermath of a concussion can impact memory, judgment, social conduct, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination. Epidemiological studies have suggested an association between sport concussions and both immediate and later-life cognitive impairment. As such, this is a public health issue that needs to be taken more seriously by players, parents, coaches, and medical professionals," said Dr. Echlin.Although, the issue of sports-related head injuries has been a growing concern for some time, this new study is the first to document the significance of this concern among junior hockey players.
Specifically, the Hockey Concussion Education Project (HCEP), a cohort study conducted between 2009 and 2010, researched 67 male ice-hockey players between the ages of 16 and 21 among two fourth-tier teams.
Before the hockey season began, the players were assessed with the Sideline Concussion Assessment Test (SCAT2) and the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT). Following these tests, players were monitored by one independent physician and one to three independent, non-physician observers, at each regular season game.
The disturbing results…
- 17 players experienced a total of 21 concussions in only 52 games.
- 5 of those 17 players suffered a second or recurrent concussion during the hockey season.
- 15 of the same 17 players admitted to having at least one concussion in the past, while 2 admitted to hiding the fact to continue playing.
- The positions most affected by concussion are: forward position (71%) and defense (29%).
- No concussions were incurred by goalies.
- The rate of concussion increases as the game progresses: first period (14%); second period (29%); and third period (57%).
- 24% of the concussions occurred in players directly involved in a fight.
- The mean clinical return-to-play duration in 15 players was 12.8 days.
In addition, educating players on the dangers should reduce the number of unreported cases and the concealment of concussions to avoid sitting on the bench. Players need to be aware that concussions are quite common in sport and the tough guy act could have devastating results to both physical and mental abilities that could last decades.
Junior Ice Hockey Study Uncovers Alarming Concussion Rates