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New study aims to prevent sports-related brain injury in youngsters
Date:3/29/2013

TORONTO, March 28, 2013Ice hockey accounts for nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries among children and youth participating in organized sports who required a trip to an emergency department in Canada, according to a new study out of St. Michael's Hospital.

The results are part of a first-of-its-kind study led by Dr. Michael Cusimano that looked at causes of sports-related brain injuries in Canadian youth and also uncovered some prevention tactics that could be immediately implemented to make sports safer for kids.

"Unless we understand how children are getting hurt in sport, we can't develop ways to prevent these serious injuries from happening," said Dr. Cusimano, a neurosurgeon and the lead author of the study. "One would think that we know the reasons why kids are having brain injuries in sports, but until know, it was based mainly on anecdotes."

The study used data from The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program to look at the almost 13,000 children and youth aged 5-19 who had a sports-related brain injury between 1990 and 2009. The results appeared in the journal PLOS ONE today. 

The researchers categorized injuries by players' ages, what sport they occurred in and what mechanisms had caused them "struck by player," "struck by object" (such as net or post), "struck by sport implement" (such as ball or stick), "struck by playing surface" and "other."

Hockey accounted for 44.3 per cent of all injuries and almost 70 per cent of them occurred in children over 10 as a result of player-to-player contact or being hit into the boards.

Dr. Cusimano said they expected to see high numbers in hockey because it's Canada's "national sport."

"This shows that body contact is still an area where we need to make major inroads to preventing brain injuries," Dr. Cusimano said. "For example, enforcing existing rules and making more effective incentives and disincentives a
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Contact: Kate Taylor
TaylorKa@smh.ca
647-393-7527
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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