Kids & TBI: Is Playing Ice Hockey to Blame?


As a society, we often hear a lot of the negative impact to the brain that football players endure playing the sport but we rarely hear of the damage ice hockey has on the players.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be in a car accident or get concussed on a football field to actually injure your brain. A brain injury may also result from a sports injury or a knock to the head from a seemingly innocuous fall.

How Can a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occur?

Brain injuries can also occur from the sudden, jarring movement of the head and neck (like whiplash). Ice hockey – along with other contact sports such as football – poses a particularly high risk of TBI, especially when their heads are slammed against a hard surface such as the ice or the Plexiglas wall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur each year in the United States, in addition to hundreds of thousands of unreported incidents of head trauma, including undiagnosed concussions.

Is Hockey Safe for My Child?

There is a list of typical hockey injuries that your aspiring young player may come up against. Concussion tops the list. As a parent, be aware that your child doesn’t need to pass out to have a concussion. The CDC defines a sports-related concussion as a “traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works.” The CDC recommends that if, after a bump to the head or a jolt, your child is confused, slowly answers questions or is unaware of the game going on, complains of a headache or dizziness, vomits or has blurry vision, he needs to be removed from the game and taken for immediate medical attention.

Other injuries common to the game are broken wrists, elbow, hip, knee, back and shoulder injuries.

USA Hockey Magazine reports that two out of every 100 hockey players end up in the ER due to injuries suffered on the ice. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that body checking in hockey is related to increased risk of medical issues in adolescent players such as concussion and severe injury. Those are not wonderful numbers when you’re concerned about your kid’s brain and body health.

Prevention is the Best Option for Brain Health

To help keep your brain safe and prevent TBI:

  • Always buckle your child into a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child’s height, weight, and age) in the car.
  • Avoid high-risk sports and activities where you can hit your head. 
  • Always wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets during contact sports, bike riding, horseback riding, skateboarding, snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding. 

If you or someone you love experiences an impact or violent shake to the head, seek medical advice immediately. With targeted treatment, you can change your brain and change your life. If you feel that you or a loved one could benefit from an evaluation, contact the Amen Clinics Care Center today online or call (888) 288-9834.

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