A systematic video analysis of National Hockey League (NHL) concussions, part II: how concussions occur in the NHL

Br J Sports Med. 2015 Apr;49(8):552-5. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092235. Epub 2013 May 1.


Background: Concussions in sports are a growing cause of concern, as these injuries can have debilitating short-term effects and little is known about the potential long-term consequences. This work aims to describe how concussions occur in the National Hockey League.

Methods: Case series of medically diagnosed concussions for regular season games over a 3.5-year period during the 2006-2010 seasons. Digital video records were coded and analysed using a standardised protocol.

Results: 88% (n=174/197) of concussions involved player-to-opponent contact. 16 diagnosed concussions were a result of fighting. Of the 158 concussions that involved player-to-opponent body contact, the most common mechanisms were direct contact to the head initiated by the shoulder 42% of the time (n=66/158), by the elbow 15% (n=24/158) and by gloves in 5% of cases (n=8/158). When the results of anatomical location are combined with initial contact, almost half of these events (n=74/158) were classified as direct contact to the lateral aspect of the head.

Conclusions: The predominant mechanism of concussion was consistently characterised by player-to-opponent contact, typically directed to the head by the shoulder, elbow or gloves. Also, several important characteristics were apparent: (1) contact was often to the lateral aspect of the head; (2) the player who suffered a concussion was often not in possession of the puck and (3) no penalty was called on the play.

Keywords: Concussion; Contact sports; Head injuries; Ice hockey; Injury Prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult