Hockey and Concussions: Changing the Game

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Derek Boogaard (

Hockey has always been a physical game, with the potential for injury being acknowledged by the players. However, in the last few years, concussions and head injuries have been covered more and more by the media.

In 2011, Minnesota Wild NHL player Derek Boogaard died with the autopsy revealing significant brain damage, thought to be caused by concussions. There were  many other players benched throughout the league that year with diagnosed concussions. One of the more well-known players of the game, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, missed the first 20 games of the 2011 season because of lingering effects from a concussion sustained during the previous season.

Dr. Michael J. Stuart, who serves as both co-director of Mayo Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, as well as the chief medical officer for USA Hockey, offered his thoughts:

“Players are bigger, and faster, and stronger, and there may be more contact or collisions that are leading to an increased risk. Today’s state of the art pads and helmets may make players overconfident they can’t be hurt. But when they are, it’s often a blow to the head.”

Coaches and officials agree that calling penalties for dangerous play is key in educating high school players. They also want to make sure that those who are diagnosed with a concussion are medically cleared to return before getting back on the ice.

According to Vitals, Dr. Michael Stuart is board-certified with 24 years of medical experience, and specializes in Orthopaedic Surgery – Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery. He is affiliated with one of the top hospitals in the nation, Rochester Methodist Hospital.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with being extra cautious and possibly adding rules like the NFL has? Or do you prefer the way the game was intended – without interference?



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