Bodychecking experience and rates of injury among ice hockey players aged 15-17 years.
Eliason PH, Hagel BE, Palacios-Derflingher L, Warriyar V, Bonfield S, Black AM, Mrazik M, Lebrun C, Emery CA. CMAJ. 2022 Jun 20;194(24):E834-E842. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.211718.
Increased experience with bodychecking was not associated with a decrease in concussion or injury occurrence in 15- to 7-year-old ice hockey players.
While bodychecking in ice hockey can lead to increased risk of injury and healthcare costs, arguments remain that increasing a hockey player’s experience with bodychecking could protect them from injury.
Eliason and colleagues completed a prospective cohort study to determine the association between experience with bodychecking and rates of concussion and injury in ice hockey players between 15 and 17 years of age.
The researchers invited players from ice hockey leagues in 3 regions in Alberta, Canada, which permitted bodychecking. All participants completed a preseason baseline questionnaire, which the authors used to estimate years of bodychecking experience. Team designates (e.g., manager) recorded each game as an exposure, an injury resulting in more than 7 days lost from hockey, and a concussion defined by the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport.
A total of 186 teams (941 players with 1,168 player-seasons) participated. Players with 3 or more years of bodychecking experience tended to experience new injuries and concussions more than 2.5 times the rate of players with 2 or fewer years of experience.
Interestingly, having more experience was not associated with fewer injuries. These findings support the theory that having more experience with bodychecking is not protective. Hence, these findings support rule changes regarding removing bodychecking from youth ice hockey. It will be helpful to see if these findings can be replicated in other age groups and populations. In the meantime, clinicians, parents, and players can use this data to advocate for rules changes to decrease bodychecking.
Clinicians and stakeholders should advocate for reduced bodychecking to decrease injury.
Questions for Discussion
What experiences do you have with rules limiting contact in sports? What barriers to implementation did you encounter?
Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban