Concussions are the most common hockey injuries among boys aged five to nine, according to research compiled by the University of Alberta's Injury Prevention Centre.
With Minor Hockey Week now underway in Edmonton, the centre took the opportunity to remind parents that concussions are serious injuries that require treatment and sufficient recovery time.
"For boys (nine and under), the most common injury is concussion, at about 20 to 25 per cent (of all injuries)," said Don Voaklander, director of the injury prevention centre.
"There's a lot of media attention on concussions right now. And I think parents are particularly concerned, so they'll take their kids in to get checked out. And I think that's a good thing."
Though bodychecking is prohibited for that age group, hockey is a "collision" sport, Voaklander said, and players are often just learning to skate. That makes them more likely to run into each other accidentally, or collide with the boards or the nets.
Joshua Davison coaches his son's Atom team. He agrees there's a lot of public awareness about concussions and said coaches at all levels need to teach players how to be safe on the ice.
"Sometimes when you're talking about concussions in younger kids, it's a lot of how you're coaching as well," he said. "You've got to make sure you're not teaching kids to play recklessly."
Players who haven't fully recovered from a concussion are twice as likely to suffer another one, Voaklander said.
He offered a good guideline for recovery time. Parents of a child who suffers a concussion should track how long it takes from the day of the injury to the day the last symptoms go away, then wait that long again before allowing the player to return to the ice.
Symptoms of concussion could include trouble in school, memory problems, headaches and abnormal sleepiness.
Alberta emergency departments see nearly 8,000 hockey-related injury visits per year, Voaklander said.