Recent rule change reduces contact injuries in youth ice hockey

2013-12-26 09:13:22 by Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Photo by Glendinning / CC Flickr Photo by Glendinning / CC Flickr

Though ice hockey isn’t as popular down here in Akron as it is to our north, it’s a great sport for youth to learn. Like football and basketball, it offers team-building skills and a great cardiovascular workout.

What's more, with the recent rule change to eliminate body-checking until age 13, head injuries, fractures and other contact ailments have been reduced.

Today, I had the chance to speak with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this topic.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.



DR. CONGENI: I wanted to talk today, Ray, about a sport that I see here a fair bit and that is youth ice hockey.

We don’t see it as much as our friends in Cleveland do. There are 15 rinks up in Cuyahoga County. Down here, we have the Kent rink, which is very busy with hockey teams, and in tri-county — down around the border of Stark and Summit counties — there’s a rink down there.

But, there are a lot of kids who play ice hockey. Parents have to be ready to travel and they have to be ready for very early morning practices.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

There are a lot of really good positives to youth ice hockey. You know, the team-building effect that we get in sports like basketball and football, you get it in hockey, too. You get a really good cardiovascular workout and a good muscular workout.

But, you know, there are some issues and problems associated , too. Kids start at a very young age. The most important technique that needs to be taught in youth ice hockey is getting in that ready position and being able to brace for contact.

One of the issues is back in 2011, they made a call to change the body-checking rules from age 11 to age 13. In the first 2 years of changing that, I think there’s been some real benefit from these rule changes in U.S.A. hockey.

You know, those rule changes to eliminate body-checking at age 11 and pushing it back to 13 wasn’t just all about head injuries either.

It really reduced fractures and separated shoulders and all those contact injuries because it really isn’t until about age 13 that kids can effectively learn how to brace themselves from contact when you’re skating … at very high rates of speed.

Photo by Stout Monks / CC Flickr Photo by Stout Monks / CC Flickr

So, ice hockey is a good sport. A lot of kids in our region do it, and I do see a lot of it down at our office. But, like everything else, there are rule changes all the time, trying to make it safer.

HORNER: Alright. Good stuff, Joe, appreciate the time.

From where I come from, Joe, gosh, high school hockey is like almost the No. 1 sport up there in northwest Pennsylvania.

DR. CONGENI: You know, it’s funny how there are pockets of stuff.

HORNER: Yeah.  

DR. CONGENI: Detroit is called, you know, “Hockey Capital USA.” Cleveland has more than we have, but it really is a good sport for young kids to learn.

HORNER: Thanks, Joe, appreciate it.

DR. CONGENI: Have a great week, Ray.

HORNER: You too. Talk to you next week. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, onboard with us.

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