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Canadian study blames media for hockey brain injuries

Medical researchers from Canada have announced in a study that the media may be responsible for the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries among hockey players. The occurrence of traumatic brain injuries can lead to future mental health problems such as memory issues, depression and other behavioral changes, and problems with thinking and perceiving sights and sounds. Researchers from Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital scanned newspaper articles about hockey games from Canadian and American newspapers over the past 25 years, and found that the media downplayed the significance of injuries, and reported injuries only when they affected star players. The researchers found overall trends that media coverage tends to normalize violence among hockey players and has not led players to change their behavior.

Hockey is a physical sport that features frequent fighting between players, and hard surfaces such as ice and Plexiglas walls that players' heads can strike, causing concussions and other brain injuries. Hockey, along with football, is one of the most physically intense sports played today, and playing it carries a tremendous risk for traumatic brain injuries.

The articles examined by the researchers also carried some positive trends regarding coverage of hockey. The newspapers described the importance of protective gear and the tendency it has to make players take greater risk, and have called for the NHL to improve the enforcement of the league's safety rules. While many of the trends noted by the researchers may encourage the occurrence of traumatic brain injuries, there are others that can hinder them.

Anyone impacted by a traumatic brain injury in sports is entitled to worker's compensation benefits from their league or their team. They may also be entitled to monetary compensation for any permanent disability or for lost wages and medical bills. Anyone injured as a result of a traumatic brain injury need not suffer destitution, but may seek the appropriate financial compensation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Is the media to blame for the brain injuries of hockey players?" Karen Kaplan, April 17, 2013

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