Hockey-related emergency department visits after a change in minor hockey age groups

Clin J Sport Med. 2012 Nov;22(6):455-61. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318259ed09.


Objective: To examine ice hockey injury rates presenting to emergency departments (EDs) in 2 separate cohorts of players before and after a policy change for age groups in minor hockey.

Design: : Retrospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: Retrospective review of ice hockey injuries presenting to 2 tertiary care and 5 community care EDs in Edmonton, Alberta.

Patients: Two cohorts of minor ice hockey players were constructed. The pre-age change cohort consisted of 4215 registered male hockey players. The post-age change cohort consisted of 3811 registered male hockey players.

Assessment of risk factors: The risk of fracture, head and neck injury (intracranial and nonintracranial), and all other injuries presenting to EDs were compared between the pre-age change and post-age change cohorts.

Main outcome measures: Presentation to an ED with an injury occurring in ice hockey between September 1 and April 31 for the years 1997 through 2010.

Results: Overall, significantly lower injury rates were observed in the post-age change cohort for players in the Peewee division; however, no significant differences were observed for the rate of fractures, and intracranial or nonintracranial head and neck injuries. There were no statistically significant differences observed between the pre-age change and post-age change cohorts in the Atom or Bantam divisions.

Conclusions: Introducing body checking 1 year earlier than in a previous cohort (11 vs 12 years of age) neither significantly decreased nor increased the rate of serious ice hockey injuries occurring 2 years after the introduction of body checking. Further research is recommended to evaluate the claim that introducing body checking lowers injury rates in older divisions of hockey.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk