Concussion Rate in Young Hockey Players Higher Than
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of concussions
among teen and young adult hockey players is more than three times
higher than previously believed, and the issue needs to be taken
more seriously by players, parents, coaches and doctors,
The study of 67 male ice-hockey players, aged 16 to 21, on two
fourth-tier teams was conducted during the 2009-2010 hockey season.
During 52 games, 17 players suffered a total of 21 concussions.
The Canadian researchers calculated that the incidence of
concussions was 21.5 per 1,000 athlete exposures, which is 3.3
times higher than reported in previous studies.
Among the other findings:
- Five of the 17 players (29 percent) with a diagnosed concussion
suffered a second or recurrent concussion during the study
- Fifteen of those 17 players (88 percent) said they had suffered
at least one previous concussion.
- Two of the players who suffered a concussion during the study
period admitted that they had concealed a concussion sustained
during that season in order to keep playing.
- Of the 21 diagnosed concussions in the study, 71 percent were
suffered by forwards and 29 percent by defensemen. There were no
concussions among goalies.
- Fifty-seven percent of the concussions occurred in the third
period, 29 percent in the second period, and 14 percent in the
- Twenty-four percent of the concussions occurred in players who
were personally involved in a fight right before their
- On average, it took 12.8 days for 15 of the players diagnosed
with concussion to return to play.
- Players assigned to a concussion education group showed
improved knowledge about the issue.
The findings are published in the November issue of
"The aftermath of a concussion can impact memory, judgment, social conduct, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination," study author Dr. Paul Sean Echlin, of the AIM Health Group, Family Medicine in South London, Ontario, said in an American Association of Neurological Surgeons news release.
"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," he added.
However, this study found "a disturbing lack of compliance by
the athletes to undergo requested neuropsychological evaluations
and multiple physician visits, as well as a lack of understanding
about the seriousness of concussion," study co-author Dr. Charles
H. Tator, of Western Hospital, University of Toronto, said in the
"Complaints from players, coaches and parents about this testing gave further credence to the importance of raising awareness about the serious long-term implications of concussions through education, which does appear to be beneficial according to our findings," he noted.
"The reluctance to report concussion symptoms may result from cultural factors, as expressed in several of the case studies -- athletes demonstrate perceived toughness to their parents, coaches, teammates and peers by playing through an injury; and the belief of the athlete that he or she is invincible, so winning overrides any consideration of the effect of the injury upon long-term health," Echlin said.
"It is imperative to bring about a cultural and philosophical change in this regard through stepped-up education efforts and enforcement of concussion protocols. At risk is something far more precious than winning a game, and that is the future health and well being of thousands of young athletes," he concluded.
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