World study confirms York prof’s findings on risks of bodychecking

Bodychecking is directly related to an increase in injury in young hockey players, a sports medical journal is reporting, wrote Canwest News Service March 12.

A Canadian research team systematically reviewed 20 published studies from Canada, the US and Finland, and their findings were published in the March issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. Nineteen of the 20 studies supported the main findings of a Canadian study, conducted in 2006, that showed bodychecking is hazardous to young hockey players.

“We were surprised by the consistency of the results…we expected to find a little more variety in the findings,” said Alison Macpherson, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York’s Faculty of Health and the senior author of the review as well as the 2006 study.

“Everything pointed in the same direction – that is, that letting children bodycheck in ice hockey is associated with an increased risk in injury,” added Macpherson.

The review, which was also researched by Dr. Andrew Howard, an orthopedic surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children, as well as Joel Warsh (BSc Hons. ’07) and Serban Constantin (BSc Spec. Hons. ’07), two former York students, suggests bodychecking be introduced no earlier than bantam level (13 years old).

The worst injuries were concussions that could have long-term effects such as learning disabilities, headaches and post-concussion syndrome – a condition in which the patient experiences symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and difficulty with focusing their eyes, for weeks and even years after the concussion, said Macpherson.

While the argument has been made that teaching children to give and receive bodychecks at a young age would decrease injury later in their life, Macpherson said none of the studies they reviewed offered solid evidence to support that.

  • The study, which is a systematic review of published research from Canada, the US and Finland, appears in the March issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, wrote the Hamilton Spectator March 12.

It found that bodychecking was often cited as a leading cause of injuries, across age levels and divisions of play in youth hockey leagues in all three countries.

The international review of research confirms the main finding of a York-led study from three years ago – namely, that bodychecking is hazardous to young hockey players, said Alison Macpherson, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York.

  • The research confirms the main finding of a York-led study from three years ago that said bodychecking was hazardous to young hockey players, wrote The Canadian Press March 11.

“Nineteen of the 20 studies we looked at this time showed an increased risk of injuries when bodychecking was permitted and some of these injuries were very serious,” said Alison Macpherson, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York. “We reviewed nine studies from Canada, nine from the US and two from Finland. And the findings from all but one support recommendations that children should play in non-contact hockey leagues until they are at least at the bantam level – 13 years of age.”

  • Macpherson, an epidemiologist in York’s Faculty of Health, also spoke about the study on Global TV March 11.

Time to keep pace with Obama

President Barack Obama is generating an excitement around science that Canada has to be prepared to match, wrote The Globe and Mail March 12 in an editorial. If it does not, it will lose scientific and technological talent, and the economic opportunities it generates.

Obama is creating a sea change on science. He said what many US scientists had been longing to hear for the past eight years: “Promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry…. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.” And in his stimulus budget last month, he gave $10 billion for research and infrastructure to the National Institutes of Health, the country’s main funding agency for medical research. Science south of the border is not only well resourced, it is suddenly cool, sexy.

It has been that way in Canada, to a good extent, in the past decade…. Alas, that was yesterday. In the recent federal budget, the Conservative government gave a big boost to physical infrastructure, and to graduate students, both good things; but it cut funds to some granting councils and held the line on others. Separately, a team of 30 neuroscientists at three Ontario universities is scrabbling for money and warning that scientists will take their talents elsewhere. “We are going head first into a cement wall,” says Doug Crawford, a neuroscientist in York’s Faculty of Health. “The very best scientists will leave.” Scientists are greedy to use their talents fully, as Heather Munroe-Blum, McGill University’s principal and vice-chancellor, puts it. Talent is mobile.

Ottawa sees the infrastructure spending as providing temporary stimulus to the economy, while hikes in operating funds might be hard to make temporary. But there is a buzz around science in the US, and any complacency here will put Canada’s gains in scientific talent and energy at risk.

Conference on Congo spotlights alleged murderer

The most newsworthy war criminal this week might be Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted for horrors in Darfur, but a York University conference today draws attention to another alleged mass murderer, wrote the Toronto Star March 12.

He is Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, accused of such atrocities as eating pygmies in the Central African Republic. Authorities arrested him in Belgium last May and turned him over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces five counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity.

Julien Ciakudia, a Congolese exile in Norway and leader for 20 years of the Patriots’ Union resistance movement [a speaker at the York conference], would like to see Bemba tried for outrages also committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"In the last 15 years of rebel fighting we have lost more than 6 million people. This is a catastrophe on a scale not seen since the Second World War. Congolese people face misery and death every day. They are dying at a rate of 45,000 a month.

We count 2.5 million displaced people and we count 1 million women raped. We don’t understand how the world can ignore what is going on in Congo."

Best-selling Italian author makes use of Sicilian dialect

Andrea Camilleri’s books sell by the millions in Italy where literary bestsellers are more often measured by the tens of thousands, wrote BC’s Trail Daily Times March 12. All this, despite or perhaps because of the fact that Camilleri laces his books with words that even many Italians don’t know.

The sprinkling of Sicilian words can disorient a first-time reader, but persevere and you can crack the code. Camilleri tosses out enough clues and context, and occasionally provides the translation, noted linguist Jana Vizmuller-Zocco, Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, Faculty of Arts. A Camilleri reader is a “crime detective but also a language detective,” said Vizmuller-Zocco.

Rocker Prince’s ex-wife (a York grad) helps children the world over

It’s no wonder York grad Manuela Testolini (BA Hons.’98) thinks North Americans are easily distracted by stardom, wrote the Toronto Star March 12. She is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, runs a children’s charity and champions living a green lifestyle. But instead of inquiring about her most benevolent causes, not five minutes into our interview, I ask about what I really want to know: “What was it like being married to Prince?”

“It was a roller-coaster,” says Testolini. Married in 2001, the duo met in Prince’s native Minneapolis while Testolini was working for his charity, Love4OneAnother. They lived together in Toronto but ultimately divorced five years later.

“It was a very eye-opening experience to see what show business was all about,” remembers Testolini. “It was never my desire to be in the spotlight but it was a great experience because it allowed me to start my own business.”

Born and raised in North York, she still calls the Bayview Avenue-area home. A law & sociology student at York, she was a philanthropist at heart and eventually left Toronto to pursue a career in Minneapolis. There, she founded her children’s foundation, In A Perfect World, a non-profit organization that partners with other community-based associations to inspire and empower children.

On air

  • Leo Panitch, political science distinguished research professor and senior Canada Research Chair in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about an alternative to contract concessions for autoworkers on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” March 11.
  • Paul Delaney, senior lecturer of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the delay of the launch of the space shuttle Discovery on CTV Newsnet March 11.