Sports related concussions have gained a considerable amount of attention recently, but is this attention hindering safety issues from getting resolved?

Canadian researchers set out to determine the nature of sports related injury reporting and whether this reporting is effective in relaying the appropriate information to the public.

The lead author of this study Dr. Michael Cusimano also headed up a similar study that determined 44.3 percent of all brain injuries among Canadian children are caused by ice hockey. Dr. Cusimano and his colleagues at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto published their findings in the April 1 edition of PLos One.

"Unless we understand how children are getting hurt in sport, we can't develop ways to prevent these serious injuries from happening." Dr. Cusimano stated. "One would think that we know the reasons why kids are having brain injuries in sports but, until now, it was based mainly on anecdotes."

Concussions are among the most common form of a traumatic brain injury, TBI, caused by a formidable hit to the head that may impede on brain function.

The research team qualitatively analyzed articles published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Vancouver Sun and Toronto Star from 1985 to 2011. These publications were seen as the best option for covering Canada and America, east coast and west coast ice hockey and all NHL teams.

A content analysis was conducted to determine the frequency of five major themes between 1998 to 2000 and 2009-2011. These themes included rules and regulations, perceptions of brain injuries, youth hockey, aggression and equipment.

The group's findings showed a significant change over time in how newspapers have reported the presence of traumatic brain injuries in ice hockey.

Canadian newspapers' attitude towards the role protective equipment plays has changed whereas in the 1998 to 2000 analysis articles advocated more equipment and now they say too much equipment can make the player feel invincible, forfeiting their ability to assess risks.

American newspapers have started to become more interested in the long term effects of brain injuries and what they can mean for young children who participate in contact sports.

Both American and Canadian newspapers reported a strong distaste for unnecessary aggression in ice hockey; however, they also reported that concussions were an inevitable part of the game.

Researchers stated, "Future work that builds upon our findings should focus on how reporting of TBI in ice hockey can affect public discourse and the shaping of programs and policies that have positive effects on public health."

Their findings were published in the paper "Trends in North American Newspaper Reporting of Brain Injury in Ice Hockey" featured in Wednesday's edition of PLoS One.