Ice Hockey Dangers
Ice hockey is not only known as a highly competitive and physically demanding sport but is also known as a game where the risk of injury is pretty high. Falling on ice can be dangerous for anyone, but getting pushed or shoved onto it makes the injury slightly riskier than usual.
Youth ice hockey is dangerous and can result in several injuries, ranging from fractures to brain injuries. However, organizers have been trying to bring in rules that protect players from serious injuries, while manufacturers have created new protective equipment that gives extra protection.
This article will go over the major and minor injuries young hockey players are prone to suffer from based on statistics. We will also look at the protective equipment that can be used to reduce the risk of significant or permanent damage that affects youth ice hockey players.
All sportsmen are prone to suffer from a few injuries at least once during the span of their careers. However, the problem lies in how severe these injuries are and how frequently they occur. Ice hockey is one such game that is known for both minor and major injuries.
Youth ice hockey is no different, so it’s essential to be aware of the potential injuries your child might suffer from and how you can try to avoid these injuries from being severe. Let’s look at the major and minor injuries that most hockey players are at risk of enduring.
Here are the major injuries young ice hockey players are prone to suffer from:
Although many injuries that might occur to the head generally tend to be minor concussions, it can sometimes lead to severe cases where immediate medical attention is required. According to the Canadien Institute for Health Information, the brain injuries that hockey players faced were almost double the number of injuries and concussions caused by other sports like football, rugby, cycling, and skiing.
Additionally, this data only counts the cases that required emergency-room visits, with the highest number of patients ranging between the ages of 10 to 14.
Brain injuries come in the forms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or cerebral concussions. It does not necessarily always result from getting hit in the head, but can occur from the impact of falling as well. Although many players are quick to recover from minor concussions, some cases can result in memory loss, irritability, changed behaviour, violence, headaches, depression, and even death.
Another common injury that can have a significant impact on players are neck injuries, which inadvertently damages the spinal cord. This mostly results from the impact of falls that affect the neck. Severe spinal cord injuries can lead to numbness, loss of muscle control, and loss of movement as well.
Although these fractures aren’t very common in hockey, it does not mean that they’ve never occurred before. Apart from being extremely painful to recover from, vertebral fractures can also result in a severed spinal cord. This could lead to paralysis or even death.
Here are the minor injuries young ice hockey players are prone to suffer from:
Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries many hockey players receive during a game. Fortunately, players generally recover pretty quickly as the sprains aren’t very serious. The most common cause for ice hockey sprains is when the player’s skate blade gets caught in an ice rut, which ends up twisting the ankle.
Muscle strains mostly occur in the lower back with most hockey players. This could result in long term and severe back pain if left unattended or untreated over time.
Muscle strains in the back occur due to the sport’s physical demands, which involve constantly bending and twisting one’s body during the game, which can exert the back muscle fibres and cause it to stretch or tear. This can result in pain or reduced mobility.
Bruises are probably an unavoidable injury that any hockey player will have to endure every once in a while. This can either result from a fall or from getting hit by a stick or puck.
Either way, there’s not much to worry about unless it’s a terrible bruise with excessive pain. There isn’t much that you can do to avoid bruises altogether. Still, there are some pointers worth noting, which we’ll be discussing later in this article.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament can either get a tear or strain and is one of the major ligaments found in the knee. It’s basically the tissue that connects the shinbone to the thigh bone and is located in the knee. PCL stands for Posterior Cruciate Ligament and is the ligament found in the back of the knee, but is not as prone to injuries as the ACL.
Most players recover from ACL and PCL injuries pretty quickly and can return to the rink after a period of rest.
A study conducted by the Canadien Medical Association Journal states that most injuries caused among minor hockey players were from body checking. Their study highlighted the benefits of making the rules stricter against body checking as that would significantly reduce the number of injuries caused by it.
In addition to this, researchers from Toronto discovered that stricter rules on body checking led to a significant decrease in injuries. Along with this, the Center for Disease Control identified body checking in ice hockey to be the leading cause of injuries among children who play the sport.
Although there may not be a complete ban against body checking in youth ice hockey, the increase in rules is beneficial in protecting the players from major and minor injuries.
Additionally, manufacturers of sporting equipment are coming out with improved designs each year, which are meant to decrease the risks of concussions, head injuries, and other significant complications. Researchers are also experimenting with new methods of identifying different kinds of concussions.
If your child’s passion is to be in the rink, you need to make sure that they’re well-equipped with protective gear to reduce the chances of severe trauma and injury.
Here’s a list of the protective measures you would need to implement in youth ice hockey:
Make sure you’re using a specifically designed helmet for ice hockey and ensure that it is foam-lined. If the helmet has undergone a significant number of blows, then it’s best to replace it instead of waiting for it to become completely worn out.
A full-face mask is essential as it will protect the face and eyes of the player. Without this, there have been a number of ugly accidents that have disfigured players in the past.
Also, make use of shoulder, leg, knee, chest, elbow, and shin pads. Padded gloves and groin protection are equally important.
Do not neglect using a mouthguard.
Invest in ice skates that provide maximum protection to the ankles. Also, not buying the right size can result in accidents, so it’s best to make sure the skates’ size is absolutely perfect and snug.
Additionally, make sure the helmet fits snugly as well. Double-check the chin straps before a game.
Frequently inspect all the gear and regularly replace anything that seems to be worn out or damaged.
To reinstate the answer, yes, youth ice hockey is a dangerous game and can lead to severe injuries in the brain and spinal cord if you’re careless. But with the right equipment and protective gear, along with the new rule changes that make the game safer, you’ll be able to avoid major or life-threatening injuries. We hope this article provided the information you were looking for about the dangers of ice hockey.
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- UPMC: Common hockey injuries and prevention tips for athletes
- Pubmed: Brain injury in ice hockey
- UPMC: Concussion signs, diagnosis, and treatment
- BJSM: The avoidability of head and neck injuries in ice hockey
- Digital Commons: The impact spectrum of head injuries on the sport of hockey
- Neurology: Consequences of traumatic brain injury in male ice hockey players
- The Atlantic: Hockey brain injuries - a tragic story of CTE in NHL
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- NCBI: National survey of spinal injuries in hockey players
- NCBI: High ankle sprains in professional ice hockey players
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- Mayo Clinic: PCL injury
- CMAJ: Home
- CMAJ: Body checking and concussions in ice hockey
- NCBI: Body checking in ice hockey
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- CDC: Home
- NCBI: Incorporating concussion education in hockey programs
- Bleacher Report: The 50 most gruesome injuries in hockey history