(Editor’s Note: The following was one of ten stories to appear the May Concussion Litigation Reporter)
Lauren Nadkarni, MD presented a research abstract at the 28th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Houston in April that suggested how new checking rules led to decreased concussion rates in high school hockey players.
In the 2014-15 hockey season, the National Federation of State High School Associations applied a greater penalty for boarding and checking from behind. This rule change greatly reduced injury rates from checking, and Dr. Nadkarni wanted to see whether concussion rates were also affected.
“In the two years after a specific rule change aimed at improved player safety, we found a dramatic decrease in the rates of concussions due to being checked,” Dr. Nadkarni said.
Using an injury database, researchers looked at rates of concussions due to being checked versus other causes of concussions for the three seasons prior to the rule change. In the two seasons after the rule change took effect, there was a 49 percent decrease in the rate of concussions due to being checked. The rate of concussions due to other causes remained unchanged.
Putting in stricter penalties for boarding and checking from behind drastically reduced rates of concussion injuries from being checked, which can have a protective effect on developing brains and reduces time away from sport.
Similar safety rules in high school ice hockey could influence future rule-making for effective injury prevention.
“Rule changes in youth sports don’t always have clear clinical evidence supporting the recommendations,” Dr. Nadkarni said. “We found a significant association between the stricter checking rule and a reduction in concussions. This might support the development of future rule changes in ice hockey.”