MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- The overall risk of injury and concussion among young ice hockey players is not affected by the age at which they're first allowed to bodycheck, according to a new study.

Canadian researchers analyzed data from youth hockey leagues in Alberta, which allowsbodychecking at the Pee Wee level (ages 11 to 12), and in Quebec, which introduces bodychecking at the Bantam level (ages 13 to 14).

The study included 995 players from 68 Bantam teams in Alberta with two years of bodychecking experience at the Pee Wee level, and 976 players from 62 Bantam teams in Quebec with no bodychecking experience.

The two groups of players had similar injury rates. During 96,907 player-hours in Alberta, there were a total of 272 injuries, including 51 concussions. During 85,464 player-hours in Quebec, there were 244 injuries, including 49 concussions, the investigators found.

Among the other findings:

  • In both provinces, head and shoulder injuries were the most common.
  • Previous injuries and concussions were risk factors for future injuries.
  • First-year Bantam players were at higher risk for injury than second-year players.
  • The risk of an injury that led to more than seven days of lost playing time was 33 percent lower in leagues where bodychecking was introduced in Pee Wee level.

"These findings need to be interpreted in light of previous evidence of more than a threefold increased risk of concussion and all injury among players aged 11 to 12 years in a league where bodychecking is permitted," the researchers concluded in the report published online June 20 in CMAJ: the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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