The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation released important new guidelines to help caregivers, health care workers, and sports officials diagnose and manage concussions in youth.

Dr. Roger Zemek of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario led a team of 30 medical experts to put the guidelines together. He says they are the first comprehensive pediatric guidelines available. The report took two years to create, with researchers following 2,000 patients and reviewing more than 4,000 academic papers.

“We’ve developed a reliable resource that is valuable for everyone affected by pediatric concussion — from children and their families to health care providers and to schools and recreational organizations,” said Zemek.

Hockey is a cornerstone of Canadian culture, generating passion and pride across the country. Back-to-back Olympic gold for both our men’s and women’s teams are inspiring a new generation of players.

And yet the hockey of our future will not be what it is today.

A Globe and Mail article published earlier this week draws attention to the fact that change is happening in youth sport. Why? Because the research linking brain injury to long-term health concerns is piling up. We now know that young athletes exposed to concussions and sub-concussive hits are more likely to attempt suicide or suffer from anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, and more.

New research has found that teenagers who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide, being bullied, and seeking help for mental health issues. They are also more likely to become bullies, take medication for anxiety and/or depression, or engage in antisocial behaviour.

Neuropsychologist and lead researcher Gabriela Ilie believes the results should serve as a “wake-up call” for parents, educators, and medical professionals. Caregivers must be vigilant to screen and monitor brain injured kids over the long-term.

Should you enroll your kids in contact sports?

It’s a question more and more parents are struggling to answer.

Not surprising, given the vast body of research highlighting the dangers of concussions and head injuries in youth sports.

While our national hockey teams have proven their dominance at the international level, recent surveys have found that youth hockey participation is actually down in Canada.