Introduction: Participation in ice hockey by women is increasing in many parts of North America; however, research into injuries and the patterns of injury among female players associated with this activity is limited.
Purpose: The purpose of this research was to examine the incidence and nature of injuries suffered by female recreational ice hockey players.
Methods: This prospective study followed 314 female players from 33 teams in Edmonton, Canada, during the 1997-1998 hockey season. Injury and game attendance data were collected using monthly telephone interviews throughout the season. Diagnostic information for individuals who received medical treatment was solicited from the attending health professional.
Results: A total of 102 players reported a total of 125 injuries for a rate 7.5 injuries/1000 player exposures. The anatomic region most often injured was the lower extremity (31.2%), and the most common diagnosis was sprain/strain (52.0%). The predominant injury mechanism was player contact, either as a result of collision with another player or a body check (40.0%). Of all injuries, 65.6% occurred during league games, 27.2% during play-off, tournament, or exhibition games, and 7.2% during practices. Although less than 1% of injuries resulted in hospitalization, 17.6% of injuries resulted in an absence from hockey of 8 or more days.
Conclusion: The diagnostic and anatomic distribution of injury in the women's hockey league was similar to that in leagues where full facial protection is mandatory. The observed injury rate was lower than the rates reported for male recreational and collegiate ice hockey players. Female recreational ice hockey players are at risk for injuries and further research is required to identify areas for injury prevention.