In recent years, we’ve heard a great deal about brain injuries in sports, particularly among children. So it might come as a surprise to learn that we know next to nothing about exactly how those injuries are caused.
This is precisely what neurosurgeon Michael Cusimano and his colleagues at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto are trying to do. In a study published in the current issue of the open access journal PROS One, they used data from the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program to determine the cause of brain injuries among five- to 19-year-olds playing ice hockey, soccer, football, basketball, baseball and rugby between 1990 and 2009.
And about one-third of all brain injuries in hockey occurred from being checked into the boards, while another 10 percent resulted from being checked from behind.
It suggests that we must seriously consider the advisability of any form of body checking, particularly among younger children.
Different sports need to be targeted in different ways. For example, ensuring padded and mobile fixed structures, along with reduced contact, might be beneficial in football, basketball and rugby, while enforcing no-stand zones and the possible use of helmets might help in baseball.
The authors suggest that sport-specific education be aimed at players, coaches, trainers, officials and parents at all levels.
The Vancouver Sun