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Mayo Clinic urges ban of body-checking in hockey until age 15, ejections for NHL fights

Researchers believe new mandates will lower the risk of concussions.

Medical experts and hockey researchers from Mayo Clinic released new recommendations for hockey that it believes will lower the risk and severity of brain injuries, namely concussions. 

The recommendations that would impact the sport on the ice are the elimination of body-checking in Bantam youth hockey, and ejecting any player involved in a fight in the junior and professional levels. 

Removing checking from Bantams (13-14 year olds) would mean body-checking wouldn't be allowed until players reach the age of 15, at the Midget level. 

“Concussion is a brain injury that can be hard to diagnose objectively. That's why coming up with strategies to prevent concussion in the first place is paramount," said Aynsley Smith PH.D., the leader of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine ice Hockey Research team. 

According to the release, less than 10 percent of concussions result in loss of consciousness, but anyone who suffers a concussion is 3-4 times more likely to suffer another concussion during the same season. 

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In the NHL, fighting is down significantly from what it was five years ago, and even more so than a decade ago. According to hockeyfights.com, 41.4 percent of games in 2008-09 had a fight. That number dropped to 29.8 percent in 2013-14 and is down to 18.9 percent this season. 

Additionally, the research led to recommendations for establishing a database for concussions at all levels, creating objective tests and mandating baseline testing to improve concussion diagnosis. 

The recommendations were voted on by a group of 155 experts who attended a concussion summit hosted by Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. The attendees included leading physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, nurses, neuropsychologists, scientists, engineers, coaches and officials. 

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