Background Ice Hockey is the fastest team sport with players skating up to 60 km/h and a puck speeding up to 160 km/h. Aggressive contacts between players, rigid obstacles (boards, goalposts), and solid surface may result in high energy trauma and severe injuries despite protective equipments. Precise data at the professional level are lacking.
Objective To determine on several seasons the epidemiology of professional ice hockey injuries, the mechanism of injury, and risk factors to allow the development of a prevention program.
Material and Methods All injuries occurring in one of the best Swiss Professional Hockey Team were recorded and monitored during 4 years. Injuries were graded as minor (time loss: 1–7 days), moderate (8–28 days), and major (>28 days).
Results Incidence of injury was 6.48/1000 h/player and was stable over the 4 years of observation. Incidence of injury resulting in time loss was 2.3/1000 h/player (forwards: 2.6, defensemen: 2.0, goalies: 0.68). Most of the lesions were moderate (51%), (minor 36%, major 13%). Collision between players was the most common mechanism of moderate to severe injury. Contusions were the most frequently seen injuries (38%) tracked by strains/sprains (29%). Knee and shoulder were the most frequently injured part of body (both 12%). Concussion had a higher incidence in defensemen (0.64/player/1000 h) compared to forwards (0.2/player/1000 h). August (beginning of the ice summer camp) was the month with the highest injury rate with and without time loss (18.7% and 18.6% respectively).
Conclusions In spite of its kinetics, ice hockey injuries rate is comparable to other contact team sports. Risk factors are first month of the season, summer training deficiency, to be a defenseman for concussion, collision between players out of the board. Measures of prevention might include optimal physical conditioning before and during the season, stronger helmet for defenseman, beware of contact in the middle of the ice field.