The incidence, severity, cause and prevention of elite ice hockey injuries
Challenger, Emily Jane
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Ice hockey is the fastest and most violent team sport in the world played with clubs (hockey sticks), a bullet (puck) and knives (skates) (Sim et al., 1987). The aim of the study was to investigate the incidence, severity and cause of injuries in Elite Ice Hockey players sustained between 1st September 2003 and 31st October 2004 with a view to prevention. A cohort of 78 elite ice hockey players (5 Elite League Ice Hockey teams) completed a self-administered questionnaire regarding injuries sustained over a nine-month period. The injury definition used in the study was any event during an ice hockey training session or game which resulted in the athlete unable to train or play for three or more days. More than half of the players involved (53%) sustained one or more injuries. Incidence was calculated as 2.0 injuries per 1,000 player-hours. 42% of players sustained severe injuries, which resulted in playing time loss of more than 21 days. The most frequently injured body part was the hand/fingers accounting for 22% of injuries, followed by the knee (16.3%), head (14.5%) and shoulder (12.7%). The anatomical location of injury was significantly different (p=0.002) to expected values however no significant difference was found between the mechanisms of injury (p>0.05), therefore, there was an equal chance of being injured by one mechanism or another. Contact with the stick (13%) and puck (13%) were the main causes of injury. Additionally, 18 injuries (32.7%) were caused by a type of check. Consistent with previous research, 79% of injuries were sustained during games, 30% of which incurred a penalty (n = 13). Possible changes in specific game rules to further penalise players such as those who cause injury through checking from behind, more rigorous officiating to enforce legal play and improved protective equipment could prevent the incidence and severity of ice hockey injuries.
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