Canadian Study Aims to Prevent Brain Injuries, Concussions in Young Athletes

A new study conducted by Michael Cusimano, MD, MHPE, FRCS, DABNS, PhD, FACS, examined sports-related brain injuries in Canadian youth and determined that ice hockey accounts for nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries among children and youth in organized sports who required a trip to an emergency department in Canada. The St. Michael’s Hospital study utilized data from The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program.


The study examined almost 13,000 children and youth ages 5 to 19-years-old who had a sports-related brain injury between 1990 and 2009. The research team categorized injuries by players’ ages, the sport where the injury occurred, and what mechanisms caused the injury. Hockey accounted for 44.3% of all injuries, and almost 70% of them occurred in children over the age of 10 as a result of player-to-player contact or being hit into the boards.


The results of the study also found that the youngest age group was at the highest risk for getting severely injured in baseball, with most of the 15.3% of injuries occurring in children under the age of 14 and 45% of them in children under the age of 9. In addition, 19% of the youth who suffered brain injuries got them during soccer, with most in either the 10 to 14 or 15 to 19 age group.


Football, rugby, and basketball also made up a percentage of the sports in which young athletes were injured. Cusimano states that there is a real opportunity for prevention, adding that “having educational programs, proper equipment, rules and other incentives that support a culture of safety in sports should be a mandate of parents, coaches, players, sports organizations, schools, sports sponsors, and other groups like governments.”


The results of the research study appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.


Source: PLOS ONE