Background Hockey Canada developed the Hockey Canada Skills Test (HCST), which measures skill acquisition and development.
Objective To investigate the effect of previous concussion on sport-specific skill performance in youth ice hockey players.
Setting Ice hockey arenas in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Participants 596 participants [525 males and 71 females, ages 11–17, representing elite (upper 30% by division of play) and non-elite (lower 70%) levels] recruited from minor ice hockey teams over three seasons of play (2012–2015).
Assessment of Risk Factors Players completed a baseline questionnaire including the number, date of occurrence, and length of recovery for any previous concussions.
Main Outcome Measurements On-ice skill performance was based on the HCST battery (forward agility weave, forward/backward speed skate, forward-to-backward transition agility, 6-repeat endurance skate). Multiple linear regression (adjusted for relative age, level of play, position, elite/non-elite, and musculoskeletal injury in the previous year), accounting for clustering by team, was conducted to explore the effect of history of concussion, number of previous concussions, time since most recent concussion, and severity of most recent concussion on HCST performance.
Results A history of concussion and time since most recent concussion were not associated with any HCST component. Players reporting two or more concussions were 7.32 seconds faster (95% CI:3.59–11.05) than those with no history performing forward agility weave with puck. For every additional day to return to play post-concussion, player times were faster by: 0.11 seconds (95% CI:0.05–0.16) on forward agility weave with puck and 0.08 seconds (95% CI:0.04–0.13) without puck, 0.01 seconds (95% CI:0.01–0.02) on transition agility without puck, and 0.06 seconds (95% CI:0.03–0.1) on backward speed with puck and 0.05 seconds (95% CI:0.03–0.07) without puck.
Conclusions Players with and without a history of concussion have similar HCST scores. Greater time loss following concussion was associated with better performance. The mechanism for this finding requires further exploration.
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