Epidemiology of Upper Extremity Injuries in NCAA Men's and Women's Ice Hockey

Am J Sports Med. 2018 Aug;46(10):2521-2529. doi: 10.1177/0363546518781338. Epub 2018 Jul 5.


Background: Ice hockey is a physically demanding sport where athletes are susceptible to a variety of injuries. Several studies reported the overall injury rates in ice hockey; however, there is a paucity of information on upper extremity (UE) injuries among collegiate ice hockey players.

Purpose: To describe the epidemiology of UE injuries among collegiate male and female ice hockey players with NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) injury surveillance data from 2004-2005 to 2013-2014.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: Data were obtained from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program for all UE injuries sustained during the academic years 2004-2005 to 2013-2014. Injury rates, rate ratios (RRs), and injury proportion ratios were reported with 95% CIs.

Results: During the 10 years studied, the overall rate of UE injuries for men was higher than that for women (236 vs 125 injuries per 100,000 athlete-exposures [AEs]; RR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.67-2.15). UE injuries sustained during either pre- or postseason were approximately 3 times higher for men than for women (preseason: 149 vs 53 per 100,000 AEs; RR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.69-4.74; postseason: 143 vs 49 per 100,000 AEs; RR, 2.91; 95% CI, 1.33-6.38). The overall injury rate was highest during the regular season (men: 257 per 100,000 AEs; 95% CI, 242-272; women: 143 per 100,000 AEs; 95% CI, 126-160). Additionally, the injury rate for men and women was higher during competition than practice (men: 733 vs 83 per 100,000 AEs; 95% CI, 687-780 and 75-92; women: 303 vs 64 per 100,000 AEs; 95% CI, 259-348 and 52-76). The most common injury observed was acromioclavicular joint sprain (men, 29.1%; women, 13.8%). For both groups, acromioclavicular joint injuries accounted for most non-time loss, moderate time loss (2-13 days), and severe time loss (≥14 days) injuries.

Conclusion: Men and women sustained a significant number of UE injuries playing collegiate ice hockey during the period studied, with acromioclavicular joint sprain being the most common UE injury and the one that most frequently led to significant time loss. These data may provide insight for future injury prevention and guide improvements in training.

Keywords: AC joint injuries; ice hockey; shoulder injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Acromioclavicular Joint / injuries
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities
  • Upper Extremity / injuries*