The overall concussion rate for children and adolescents who participated in ice hockey was similar to those reported in other high-impact sports, such as youth football, according to recent research in Pediatrics.
“Participation in youth ice hockey has doubled in the past 20 years, and there is growing concern about concussions in this sport,” Anthony P. Kontos, PhD, of the department of orthopaedic surgery and UPMC sports medicine concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues wrote. “This study reports incidence rates for concussions during practice and games across age groups for youth ice hockey.”
Anthony P. Kontos
The researchers studied 397 ice hockey players aged 12 to 18 years from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Alabama from 2012 to 2014. Concussion frequency was monitored across practices and games for 31 teams, including four girls teams. Concussions were defined as any mild, closed-head injury involving either altered cognitive functioning, concussion-like symptoms or brief loss of consciousness. The researchers followed-up with participants suspected of having a concussion to confirm the diagnosis for study inclusion.
Data showed that among 23,369 athletic exposures monitored during the study, there were 37 confirmed concussions, about 70% that occurred during games. The concussion incidence rate for practices was 1.17 concussions per 1,000 athletic exposures (95% CI, 0.68-1.89), while the incidence rate for games was 2.46 per 1,000 athletic exposures (95% CI, 1.64-3.55). These rates combined for an overall incidence rate of 1.58 per 1,000 athletic exposures (95% CI, 1.13-2.16). Kontos and colleagues stated that the higher incidence rate during games may be attributed to the higher rate of illegal contact. Forty-three percent of concussions were associated with illegal player contact.
The researchers noted that the overall incidence rate for concussions observed in this study was similar to the rate of 1.76 concussions per 1,000 athletic exposures observed in an earlier study of football players aged 8 to 12 years.
“Future research should compare younger and older adolescents, male and female cohorts, and investigate further the possible risk factors for discrepancies in concussion rates, such as checking policies and illegal contact,” Kontos and colleagues wrote. – by David Costill
Kontos AP, et al. J Pediatr. 2013;doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.04.011.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.