Epidemiology of recreational and old-timer ice hockey injuries

Clin J Sport Med. 1996 Jan;6(1):15-21. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199601000-00005.


Objective: To examine the nature and incidence of injuries suffered by a sample of recreational and old-timer ice hockey players.

Design: Random sample of teams followed prospectively.

Setting: Various hockey rinks in the Greater Edmonton Region.

Participants: Four hundred and thirty-one subjects--287 adult male recreational (AMRL) and 144 male old-timer (OTL) from five leagues were followed over the 1992-93 hockey season.

Main outcome measures: Injuries sustained during the duration of a hockey season.

Results: A total of 151 injuries (100 AMRL and 51 OTL) were reported. The aggregate injury rate was 12.2/1000 player-exposures (12.3 AMRL and 12.0 OTL). The anatomic region most often injured by AMRL players was the head/neck/facial area (32%) while OTL players reported a greater proportion of lower extremity injuries (40%). Both groups reported sprains/strains as the most common diagnosis (35% AMRL and 47% OTL). The predominant injury mechanism for AMRL players was stick contact (24%) and for OTL players was puck contact (23%). No significant differences were detected between the anatomic, diagnostic, and mechanistic distributions of injury between AMRL and OTL players. Seventy-five percent of injuries occurred during league games, 10% during playoff games, 5% during tournament games, and 10% during practices. Penalties were assessed in 31% of injury instances. Forty-two percent of head/neck/facial injuries, 32% of upper extremity injuries, 13% of torso injuries, and 15% of lower extremity occurred as a result of penalizable behavior (p = 0.01). Three percent of players wearing full or half face protectors suffered facial injuries while 9% of players not wearing facial protection reported facial injuries (p = 0.03; Relative Risk = 2.56).

Conclusions: The injury rates observed were lower than reported rates for major/elite hockey. The proportion of players injured through body contact was lower than that observed in adult major/elite hockey while the diagnostic and anatomic distribution of injury was similar. Studies such as this are useful in the development of injury prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control