Changing the rules -- more than educational or other strategies -- has the best chance of making kids' hockey a safer sport, researchers said.
"Rule changes essentially alter the culture of a sport and clearly define acceptable behavior for” players, parents, coaches and officials, the researchers wrote in an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal.
The article cited a study showing that the 2009-10 season saw an incidence of game-related concussions that was seven times higher than that in 1998-99. Brain injuries frequently result from aggressive body checks, accounting for 15% of the injuries among players 9 to 16 years old, the researchers said.
The researchers looked at how rule changes, education and behavior-modification strategies changed the incidence of aggression and violence. They searched databases and found 18 relevant studies, mostly about youth hockey.