Background: Men's ice hockey allows for body checking, and women's ice hockey prohibits it. Studies have reported injury data on both sexes, but no systematic reviews have compared the injury patterns between male and female ice hockey players.
Hypothesis: Men's and women's ice hockey would have different types of injuries, and this difference would extend across the different age groups and levels of play.
Study design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Three databases, 3 scientific journals, and selected bibliographies were searched to identify articles relevant to this study. Articles were further screened by the use of predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Twenty-two studies met these criteria and were subsequently reviewed.
Results: Men sustained higher rates of injuries than women at all age levels, and both sexes sustained at least twice as many injuries in games than practices. Both sexes sustained most of their injuries from player contact. Men and women in college sustained most injuries to the head and face, and women suffered from higher percentages of concussion. At all ages and levels of play, men had higher rates of upper extremity injuries (shoulder), while women were found to sustain more injuries to the lower extremity (thigh, knee).
Conclusion: Although findings showed men sustaining higher rates of injuries than women, the predominant mechanism of player contact was the same. The most common locations and types of injuries in female ice hockey players are comparable to other sports played by women, and similar interventions could offer protection against injury.
Clinical relevance: Further studies that report injury data for women playing ice hockey at all levels will assist in understanding what prevention strategies should be implemented.
Keywords: facial injuries; female athlete; head injuries; ice hockey.