Player and Game Characteristics and Head Impacts in Female Youth Ice Hockey Players.J Athl Train 2017; 52(8):771-775JA
Despite the growing popularity of ice hockey among female youth and interest in the biomechanics of head impacts in sport, the head impacts sustained by this population have yet to be characterized.
To describe the number of, biomechanical characteristics of, and exposure to head impacts of female youth ice hockey players during competition and to investigate the influences of player and game characteristics on head impacts.
Twenty-seven female youth ice hockey players (mean age = 12.5 ± 0.52 years) wore instrumented ice hockey helmets during 66 ice hockey games over a 3-year period. Data specific to player, game, and biomechanical head impact characteristics were recorded. A multiple regression analysis identified factors most associated with head impacts of greater frequency and severity.
A total of 436 total head impacts were sustained during 6924 minutes of active ice hockey participation (0.9 ± 0.6 impacts per player per game; range, 0-2.1). A higher body mass index (BMI) significantly predicted a higher number of head impacts sustained per game (P = .008). Linear acceleration of head impacts was greater in older players and those who played the forward position, had a greater BMI, and spent more time on the ice (P = .008), whereas greater rotational acceleration was present in older players who had a greater BMI and played the forward position (P = .008). During tournament games, increased ice time predicted increased severity of head impacts (P = .03).
This study reveals for the first time that head impacts are occurring in female youth ice hockey players, albeit at a lower rate and severity than in male youth ice hockey players, despite the lack of intentional body checking.