University of Calgary

Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre in Faculty of Kinesiology provides evidence for Hockey Alberta decision

UToday HomeMay 10, 2013

Carolyn Emery, PhD, is a researcher with the Faculty of Kinesiology’s Sport Medicine Centre, and co-chair of the University of Calgary’s Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre.Carolyn Emery, PhD, is a researcher with the Faculty of Kinesiology’s Sport Medicine Centre, and co-chair of the University of Calgary’s Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre.Hockey Alberta announced Wednesday that it will eliminate bodychecking from peewee ice hockey beginning in the 2013-14 season.

Saying that player safety was the “foundation” behind making the decision, Hockey Alberta’s board chairman, Rob Virgil, says, “There is overwhelming evidence that bodychecking is the single most consistent risk factor for injuries and concussions in youth ice hockey.”

Most of the evidence underlying the decision came from a series of landmark studies by Carolyn Emery, PhD, a researcher and co-chair of the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

Emery and colleagues in Alberta and Quebec compared injury rates between peewee hockey players (ages 11 and 12) in Quebec and Alberta. In Quebec, bodychecking is not introduced until age 13. The study followed 74 Alberta teams (1,108 players) and 76 Quebec teams (1,046 players) for a season, recording how and when injuries occurred during a game.

The study concluded that if bodychecking were eliminated in Alberta peewee, over 1,000 game-related injuries and over 400 game-related concussions would be prevented each year. Emery and her team followed that study with a comparison of injury rates in bantam hockey, where they found that concussion and injury rates were similar in Quebec and Alberta, indicating that there was no protective effect from players “learning to take a hit” in peewee hockey.

“I am very pleased to see that Hockey Alberta has made an evidence informed decision,” says Emery, “and l congratulate them on this decision. I look forward to discussions regarding evaluation of this change. I also commend Hockey Calgary and Hockey Alberta for the work they have done in involving very productive review committees who examined bodychecking policy over the last two years.”

Emery, who is an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Population Health Investigator and holds a professorship in pediatric rehabilitation with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, says that she is looking forward to evaluating the impact of eliminating bodychecking in peewee.

Emery adds that she and her team will also be evaluating related issues including skill development, concussion education, concussion baseline testing, management and rehabilitation in future studies.

 

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