A study conducted by researchers of Toronto concluded that different rules which limit body checking can considerably decrease the chances of getting injured while playing hockey, ultimately making the game a much safer sport for young players. The research evaluated 18 studies assessing methods to reduce aggression-related injuries, out of which 13 turned out to be mandatory rule changes in minor hockey in Canada and the U.S.
Eleven of these changed rules showed in between one to six fewer penalties per game, and three to twelve times fewer injuries. The Principal Researcher of the study, Dr. Michael Cusimano, asserted that these alterations of rules along with educational programs and giving incentives or rewards demonstrating sportsmanship can considerably reduce hockey injuries. Dr. Cusimano is a neurosurgeon practicing at St. Michael’s Hospital. He alleged that brain injuries like concussion usually originate from aggressive body checking and are calculated to be 15 per cent of all injuries to players who age between nine to sixteen years.
The conclusion of the study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, asserting that up to one-quarter of players sustain concussions in a single season. Cusimano wrote that “given that brain injuries are so common and that they can have permanent effects, we need to introduce measures that we know have been shown to work to reduce the numbers of children and youth suffering these injuries in sport.” He stated that “rule changes essentially alter the culture of a sport and clearly define acceptable behaviour for players, coaches, parents and officials.”
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