A person’s brain is made up of soft tissue which is surrounded by blood and spinal fluid. When the head is hit it can cause the brain to move inside the skull, sometimes even knocking against the bones of the skull. This sudden movement of the brain causes the brain to function differently, whether it’s for a short period of time or in some cases long term (Robert). It is the acceleration and deceleration of the brain against the inside of the skull that can cause the brain to be irritated and interrupt its function (MedicineNet). The movement of the brain in the skull can cause injury to the brain even if there is no loss of consciousness (Solomon). A few of the symptoms of a concussion are memory loss, nausea, headache, difficulty thinking and a loss of energy (Robert).
The numbers of concussions that happen in the sport of hockey have increased significantly over the years (Linden). A study conducted by the National Hockey League looked at the number of concussions that occurred in seven regular seasons between 1997 and 2004. The information from the study was collected from physician’s reports from every team in the league during that time period. The information confirmed that there were 559 concussions during regular season games which is a rate of 5.8 for every 100 hockey players (American). At the end of the 2010-2011 regular season, NHL medical records showed that at least 85 players had missed time due to post-concussion syndrome. Most notable in the media was the head injury sustained by Sidney Crosby (News). His injury brought about discussions concerning the seriousness of concussions (Top 10).
Young players at the minor hockey level have also reported to be sustaining head injuries at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, in minor hockey there are less fully trained bench staffs, therefore concussions are not correctly detected or reported the majority of time. Some experts believe that the increase in concussions at this early level is due to early body checking in minor hockey (Barber). A study conducted by the staff at St. Michael`s Hospital in Toronto concluded that when Hockey Canada lowered the age of body checking to nine year olds in 1998-1999, the number of concussions in young players increased. The lack of maturity at this age level causes the young players to use physical contact more often than needed in the game itself. Emergency records reviewed by neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Cusimano and his team discovered that the chance of getting an injury from a body check at any age level increased. In fact, in lower age groups it actually doubled. Hockey Canada has since reversed their decision on early body contact among atom players (nine to ten year olds). Players in the bantam level (thirteen to fourteen years old) were found to be twice as likely to get a concussion, and midget players (fifteen to sixteen year olds) were thirty-one percent more likely to sustain a concussion. Body checking in hockey is putting young players at a high risk of long term effects of brain injuries that could affect their cognitive and social development (St. Michael’s).
In June 2011 the NHL banned “blindsided” headshots but decided against a ban of all headshots. The fact is that the rules of the game are not always followed, and the consequences of not playing by the rules are not always enforced. In addition, the speed of the game along with the aggressiveness of