TORONTO (AP) — The proportion of junior hockey players who suffer concussions is far more significant than previously thought, according to a study that has researchers calling for changes to how Canada’s national game is played at all levels.
“The results of this study demonstrate an incidence of concussion significantly higher than any other study in the literature — seven times higher,” lead investigator Dr. Paul Echlin said.
Echlin, a sports medicine specialist, said Monday the study recorded the number of concussions sustained by members of two unnamed junior hockey teams during the 2009-2010 regular season.
Seventeen players had a total of 21 concussions during 52 physician-observed games — with almost one-quarter of those occurring among players involved in on-ice fights, say the researchers, whose study is published in the November issue of the journal Neurological Focus.
Echlin said that during the season, 29 percent of players who had a concussion went on to suffer a second or recurrent concussions — brain injuries that have the potential to result in lifelong physical and cognitive deficits.
Also, 69 percent of the hits that caused concussions were shots to the head, he said, noting that four out of five of those were determined to be “purposeful versus incidental.”