CHEO and uOttawa Faculty of Medicine call on Hockey Canada to take action on Youth Concussions

Findings from research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine recommend authorities mandate that schools and sports organizations enforce new policies to prevent concussions.

Dr. Kristian Goulet of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine partnered with CHEO to research the effect of body contact on teens. The study’s conclusions say that hockey leagues in Canada should overhaul their current rules and regulations to raise the age of bodychecking in the game from 13 to 15 years old.

Dr. Goulet and CHEO’s literature review calls on provincial and territorial governments to mandate schools involved with school sports and sports organizations to establish, update, and enforce protocols to minimize the risk of concussion, with a keen focus on body contact.

Currently, hockey organizations in Canada allow body contact in competitive and recreational leagues from the age of thirteen. Studies have shown that concussion rates increase, and injuries occur significantly more often with body contact.

Nearly half of hockey injuries are caused by bodychecking, with injury rates four times higher for children and teenagers in leagues that allow bodychecking. Other studies have found that concussion rates decrease by over 50 percent with the elimination of body contact.

An estimated 200,000 concussions occur in Canada annually, primarily affecting children and youth. Concussions are no joke for kids, as they can cause various complications, including memory and concentration problems, mood swings, personality changes, insomnia, drowsiness, and more. While many fully recover, long-persisting or even permanent post-concussive symptoms can follow.

Ice hockey is the leading cause of all sports and recreationally related traumatic brain injury (TBI) across pediatric age groups in both boys and girls.

Dr. Goulet is hopeful that his review will spur Hockey Canada to advance the widespread understanding of concussions, TBI, and guidance for clinical management, especially related to acute care, persistent symptoms, and prevention methods.

“Sport is incredibly important for the mental, physical, emotional, and social health of our kids. However, it is our duty as healthcare providers, parents, coaches, administrators, and decision-makers, to make all reasonable efforts to play sports as safe as possible.”

*Dr. Goulet is an Assistant Professor at uOttawa’s Faculty of Medicine, Medical Director of the CHEO Concussion Clinic, The Eastern Ontario Concussion Clinic, and the Pediatric Sports Medicine Clinic of Ottawa.

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