Study shows no benefit to bodychecking in peewee
University of Calgary professor Carolyn Emery has found more evidence she says conclusively proves removingbodycheckingfrompeewee hockey will reduce concussions and injuries in young players.
She claims her new study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, shows there is no significant spike in injuries in bantam hockey players in Quebec, the first level hitting is allowed, over Alberta bantam players who’ve been checking for two years in Pee Wee.
The study takes dead aim at the belief among some coaches and parents that waiting to allow checking in older age groups will only delay injuries.
Her study did find a 33 per cent increase in severe injuries (those requiring a player to sit out for over a week) in Quebec bantam players but Emery said that was not significant compared to the risk in peewee.
“I would argue it’s irrelevant . . . in light of a fourfold greater risk of concussion and a threefold greater risk of that (severe) injury type in peewee,” said Emery. “Across four years of play, the evidence is fairly conclusive that removing bodychecking in peewee ice hockey will have a significant public health impact in terms of concussion and injury reduction in youth ice hockey players.”
In her study of peewee players last year, Emery said an estimated 1,000 game-related injuries and 400 gamerelated concussions could be prevented per year in 11-and 12-year-old Alberta players if body checking was eliminated.
Her bantam study also doesn’t rule out a cause for increased severe injuries in Quebec coming from the “survivor” effect.
In Alberta, some players drop out of hockey after peewee because they don’t like the hitting or due to a history of multiple concussions. Those type of players would presumably carry on into bantam in Quebec she argued, where she said they would be at greater risk.
The bantam study looked at injury rates in 68 Alberta teams and 62 Quebec teams.
There were 272 injuries including 51 concussions in Alberta and 244 injuries including 49 concussions in Quebec.
The study supports the conclusions of 14 of 15 studies showing an increased risk of concussion and injury when bodychecking is allowed in peewee said Emery.
USA Hockey has banned body checking from peewee starting next season. The hockey body is instituting an new progressive checking skill development program.
Emery, a hockey parent, would like to see something similar brought in to Canada.
Perry Cavanagh, outgoing Hockey Calgary president, says the study is more proof there is no grey area when it comes to the concussion problems — it’s very black and white.
“There is no significant difference in the incident rate so the majority of the argument was if you start to teach them earlier, it will reduce the number of injuries,” he said.
“The science is proving that this is 100 per cent false.”
The association decided on Saturday to take one more season to study the effects of hitting in peewee hockey before likely re-evaluating the situation next off-season, although Cavanagh mentioned it’s possible rules could change by January.