The purpose of this study was to quantify head impact exposure (frequency, location and magnitude of head impacts) for individual male and female collegiate ice hockey players and to investigate differences in exposure by sex, player position, session type, and team. Ninety-nine (41 male, 58 female) players were enrolled and 37,411 impacts were recorded over three seasons. Frequency of impacts varied significantly by sex (males: 287 per season, females: 170, p<0.001) and helmet impact location (p<0.001), but not by player position (p=0.088). Head impact frequency also varied by session type; both male and female players sustained more impacts in games than in practices (p<0.001), however the magnitude of impacts did not differ between session types. There was no difference in 95th percentile peak linear acceleration between sexes (males: 41.6 g, females: 40.8 g), but 95th percentile peak rotational acceleration and HITsp (a composite severity measure) were greater for males than females (4424, 3409 rad/s(2), and 25.6, 22.3, respectively). Impacts to the back of the helmet resulted in the greatest 95th percentile peak linear accelerations for males (45.2 g) and females (50.4 g), while impacts to the side and back of the head were associated with the greatest 95th percentile peak rotational accelerations (males: 4719, 4256 rad/sec(2), females: 3567, 3784 rad/sec(2) respectively). It has been proposed that reducing an individual's head impact exposure is a practical approach for reducing the risk of brain injuries. Strategies to decrease an individual athlete's exposure need to be sport and gender specific, with considerations for team and session type.
Keywords: Concussion; Gender; Hockey; Impact biomechanics.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.