A new Mayo Clinic study in Pediatrics reviews the types and severity of injuries among youth ice hockey players. The study examined the spectrum of injuries and found fractures and concussions to be most frequent, with many of these injuries requiring hospitalization and surgery.
"Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Minnesota and is rapidly growing in popularity throughout the United States. Due to the fast, hard-hitting nature of the game, people often ask, 'What kinds of injuries might happen to my children?'" says study author Michael Ishitani, M.D., pediatric surgeon, Mayo Clinic Children's Center. "Most injuries occurred in boys and older children, though approximately 20 percent occurred in girls, which is higher than previously reported."
The study reviewed patients over a 16-year period who were evaluated at a pediatric trauma center after sustaining injury while participating in ice hockey. Fractures and head injuries were the most common, with differences based on age and gender. For example, older boys were more likely to present with an extremity injury, while girls of all ages and younger children were more likely to present with concussion symptoms. Overall, the number of life-threatening injuries was small.
Dr. Ishitani encourages parents and coaches to ensure ice hockey participants wear appropriate equipment and to learn to play with respect for their opponents.
"Most kids aren't going to be the next Wayne Gretzky," he says. "I encourage parents and coaches to remember that kids are out there to develop their skills, be a part of a team, and develop into mature young men and women."