In the never ending saga of concussions
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02-02-2011, 01:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: North of the Tank
USA Hockey to consider banning body checking for youth players
USA Hockey is considering a proposal that would make bodychecking illegal for all players under 13, an initiative sure to ignite the growing debate over the proper time to introduce contact at the grassroots level.
The proposed measure was raised at USA Hockey’s annual winter meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., and according to the association’s senior director of hockey development, Kevin McLaughlin, it was not designed primarily to address safety issues.
“It is a skill development initiative first,” said McLaughlin, who explained that his organization’s research found that bodychecking at the peewee level was significantly distracting players from improving their skills at a critical time in their development. Too often, he said, players of that age were either too focused on hitting or trying to avoid a hit."
The USA Hockey proposals, which also seek to penalize all contact to the head and neck area, will be voted on at the organization’s annual congress in June.
According to McLaughlin, a series of research studies into head injuries that culminated with a concussion summit at the Mayo Clinic last fall also reinforced the need for the initiatives. McLaughlin cited a seminal report conducted by University of Calgary researcher Carolyn Emery and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association as pivotal as well.
Emery’s report followed more than 2,000 peewee players – half from Alberta leagues, where bodychecking was permitted, and the rest from Quebec, where it wasn’t. The results show a significant difference in the number of head injuries, with 73 concussions among Alberta players over the 2007-2008 season, compared to 20 in Quebec. There were 14 severe concussions in Alberta, versus four in Quebec.
“What we find is that an 11-year-old brain is more susceptible to concussion,” McLaughlin said. “The 11- and 12-year-old brain is not cognitively developed to anticipate being hit. So if you can’t anticipate it and you can’t protect yourself, you’re putting yourself in a predicament to suffer a more severe injury.”
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