Protective Capacity of Ice Hockey Helmets against Different Impact Events

Ann Biomed Eng. 2016 Dec;44(12):3693-3704. doi: 10.1007/s10439-016-1686-3. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


In ice hockey, concussions can occur as a result of many different types of impact events, however hockey helmets are certified using a single injury scenario, involving drop tests to a rigid surface. The purpose of this study is to measure the protective capacity of ice hockey helmets for different impact events in ice hockey. A helmeted and unhelmeted Hybrid III headform were impacted simulating falls, elbow, shoulder and puck impacts in ice hockey. Linear and rotational acceleration and maximum principal strain (MPS) were measured. A comparison of helmeted and unhelmeted impacts found significant differences existed in most conditions (p < 0.05), however some shoulder and puck impacts showed no significant difference (p > 0.05). Impacts to the ice hockey helmet tested resulted in acceleration levels below reported ranges of concussion and TBI for falls up to 5 m/s, elbow collisions, and low velocity puck impacts but not for shoulder collisions or high velocity puck impacts and falls. The helmet tested reduced MPS below reported ranges of concussion and TBI for falls up to 5 m/s but not for the other impact events across all velocities and locations. This suggests that the ice hockey helmet tested is unable to reduce engineering parameters below reported ranges of concussion and TBI for impact conditions which do not represent a drop against a rigid surface.

Keywords: Concussion; Finite element modeling; Helmet; Ice hockey; Impact biomechanics.

MeSH terms

  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Hockey*
  • Humans
  • Male