Hockey players know that body checking, which is using your body to block another player, is a part of the sport. It just happens. According to a report by National Public Radio, there has been a movement to ban body checking in youth sports to prevent serious brain injuries.
When it comes to young brains, parents, doctors and athletic associations need to do everything they can to prevent brain injuries like concussions or brain damage because these injuries can cause serious developmental problems later.
Should body checking be banned in youth hockey to prevent brain injuries?
A new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 11-year-olds who play in a hockey league that allows checking are three times more likely to suffer concussions and serious injuries compared to those playing in leagues that don’t allow checking.
In her study, a researcher from the University of Calgary, compared injury rates in Alberta to Quebec and found that if body checking was banned in Alberta, Canada, “we’d expect to see 1,000 fewer injuries and about 400 fewer concussions.”
Typically, hockey leagues in the United States & Canada introduce checking at age 11, but the American Academy of Pediatrics believe these leagues shouldn’t allow body checks for players under 15 in order to prevent brain injuries at such a young age. That policy was initiated in 2007 after a report found that 86 percent of all brain injuries occurred in games played by kids who were between the ages of 9 and 15.
It’s not all about age when it comes to body checking in youth hockey leagues. Size does matter, and studies have shown that lighter kids are at higher risk for brain injuries than bigger players their same age.
In college and professional hockey, there are numerous body checks where no one gets hurt, but that takes skill and experience that younger players don’t have. Another expert of the University of Buffalo advises youth leagues to limit checking, and leave the intentional hits to competitive players trying to make a career out of hockey.
Young athletes will always want to experiment with sports, and some may be more physical than others. Our brain injury lawyers believe that all sports should be made as safe as possible, and studies like this can only make things better for someone looking to be the next Sidney Crosby or Alexandr Ovechkin.
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