Research Spotlight – Epidemiology of Injuries in Ice Hockey

This week’s research spotlight features a literature review of several major medical databases for research about the types and frequency of injuries in ice hockey across multiple levels of play. There is currently not enough research available to make this a comprehensive review, but it gives us a nice place to start when looking at injuries and injury prevention.

For full text of the article (published first on June 3rd, 2019) see the link below:

Takeaways and Highlights:

  • More than 12,000 people under the age of 19 seek medical care at the ED for hockey related injuries each year, and this number continues to rise. The most common injuries seen in youth hockey are contusions, fractures, sprains/strains, and lacerations.
  • There is still no consensus, and further research is warranted, when looking at injury rates in Pee Wee leagues that allow checking versus those that do not. Injury risk seems to be higher at the Pee Wee age (11-12), but decreased at the Bantam age (13-14) in leagues that allow checking to begin at Pee Wee than those that do not.
  • Risk of injury is higher in games than in practice across age and skill ranges. Player to player contact is the most common mechanism of injury at the collegiate level during games, but non-contact mechanisms account for the majority of practice injuries.
  • A collision caused 51% of the injuries in Junior U20 aged players, with injuries to the head and face accounting for 39% of injuries, upper body 29%, lower body 24% and trunk and spine 9%.
  • In the U20 age group, facial lacerations were the most common injury to the face or head. In the U18 group concussion was the most common face or head injury (46% of injuries).
  • 63% of concussions in the U18 group were caused by illegal hits, and a penalty was called on only 53% percent of those hits. The majority of concussions took place during the 3rd period.
  • A study of Junior hockey players showed that players that wear no facial protection incur facial injuries at a rate more than twice that of players wearing partial protections and seven times that of players wearing full face protection. The risk of eye injury in players wearing no facial protection was 4.7 times higher than players with partial face protection.
  • The MCL is the most commonly injured knee ligament at the professional level.
  • The incidence of concussions at the professional level has been decreasing in recent years, likely due to the numerous prevention strategies adopted by the NHL and other professional leagues. The majority of concussions and head trauma injuries are sustained with a hit to the head, unexpected open ice hits, or contact with the boards.

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