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This Week Off The Ice: Hockey Related Concussions Are On The Rise

Sara Ramsey |
November 4, 2010 | 1:01 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The NFL has been cracking down on head injuries recently, more specifically concussions. 

Studies have shown that many retired NFL players are displaying signs of increased memory loss, problems concentrating and other neurological setbacks. The same problems are found in hockey players, yet seem less publicized. 

A new study conducted in Canada is showing that the rate of concussions experienced by youth hockey players is three times higher than previous studies have revealed. 

67 male players between the ages of 16 and 21 were examined during the 2009-2010 season. Findings showed that in 52 games, 17 of them experienced a combined 21 concussions.

It was also found that the majority of the players who received concussions were forwards (29 percent were defenseman). On average, the injury resulted in 13 days off before the player could return to the ice.

"Epidemiological studies have suggested an association between sport concussions and both immediate and later-life cognitive impairment,” study author Dr. Paul Sean Echlin said. “As such, this is a public health issue that needs to be taken more seriously by players, parents, coaches and medical professionals."

Youth sports related injuries have resulted in over 500,000 emergency room visits between 2001-2005, yet many injuries go unreported.

“The pressure to win the next period, game or series is an important and overriding factor that blinds many of those who should be protecting our young athletes,” Echlin wrote. “The athlete has to be educated about the long-term seriousness of concussion and encouraged to self-report.”

With so much at risk for those who play the sport, it seems appropriate to want to stop young athletes from participating. But for those of us who love hockey there has to be another option.

Echlin thinks increasing awareness is a good first step.

“The adults who surround the athlete must take the leadership in promoting respect for the game and the long-term health of its participants,” he said.

To reach writer Sara Ramsey, click here.

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