MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stephanie F. Polites, MD
Department of Surgery and
Michael B. Ishitani, MD
Department of Pediatric Surgery
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?
Answer: Though most injuries were in boys, 20% of the injuries occurred in girls. Extremity fractures and head injuries were the most common injuries with older children and boys more likely to sustain extremity fractures while younger children and girls were more likely to have head injuries or concussions. Life threatening injuries were rare, which is reassuring.
MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Answer: The proportion of girls who were injured was higher than previously reported, likely due to the increasing number of girls participating in youth ice hockey. Also, it was concerning that concussions were the second most frequent injury. Of the children who had concussions, one in three had symptoms for at least one year and almost half reported having suffered previous concussions in the past.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Answer: Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for a head injury in children who are injured playing ice hockey. Waiting until symptoms completely disappear and then returning to practice and games in a gradual fashion under medical supervision is important. Parents and coaches should also make sure children have the appropriate protective equipment and that they follow the rules and treat other players with respect.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Answer: It is difficult to determine if the incidence of injuries in youth ice hockey is increasing, so complete population-based studies of hockey injuries would be helpful. Clearly further research on concussions in youth sports is needed in order to reduce the frequency and recurrence of these injuries.