Background A 2015, Hockey Calgary body checking (BC) policy change disallowed BC from non-elite Bantam (ages 13–14, lower 60% of divisions). This was informed by evidence that disallowing BC in Pee Wee (ages 11–12) reduced the risk of injury, specifically concussion, by >3-fold.
Objective To compare the frequency of type and intensity of player-to-player contacts (PC) and head contact in non-elite Bantam ice hockey games in leagues allowing BC (2014–15) compared with leagues disallowing BC (2015–16).
Design Cohort study.
Setting Ice-hockey arenas in Calgary, Canada.
Participants Non-elite Bantam players in 2014–15 (n=348 players) and 2015–16 (n=309 players) seasons.
Interventions In the 2014–15 season, non-elite Bantam leagues allowed BC. In 2015–2016, BC was disallowed.
Main Outcome Measurements Thirteen games pre-policy change (2014–2015) and 13 post-policy change were video recorded. Analysis using validated methodology was used to compare the frequency, type (i.e., trunk, head and other types of PC with limb/head/stick), and intensity (trunk contacts level 1–5 with increasing intensity) of PCs. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated using Poisson regression (controlling for cluster by team, offset by player minutes).
Results There were a total of 3485 trunk contacts and 1395 other contacts in 26 games. The overall risk of trunk PCs was lower post-policy change (IRR=0.50, 95% CI; 0.45–0.56). Post-policy change, high intensity (body checking - level 4,5) contacts decreased (IRR4=0.19, 95% CI; 0.13–0.26 IRR5=0.11, 95% CI; 0.03–0.51), lower intensity (level 2,3) PCs were less frequent (IRR2=0.45, 95% CI; 0.40–0.50 and IRR3=0.47, 95% CI; 0.35–0.63), and other contacts made with the limb/stick also decreased (IRR=0.60, 95% CI; 0.48–0.73). Head contact decreased (IRR=0.40, 95% CI; 0.25–0.61).
Conclusions Post-policy change disallowing BC in non-elite Bantam, incidence of high intensity (level 4,5) PCs decreased 82%. Head contact decreased 60% and stick/limbs contact decreased 40%. These findings inform the mechanisms of injury explaining concussion risk reduction post-BC policy change.