In this prospective study, we have investigated incidence of injuries of different severity, types of injury, and mechanisms of injury during ice hockey games. All twelve Swedish elite hockey teams were observed during the season 1988-1989 when a total number of 664 games were played. There was a total number of 285 injuries, of which the majority were minor (61%) and only 9% were classified as major. Seventy-four per cent of the injuries occurred during games and 26% during practice. The overall incidence of injury was 53.0 per 1000 player-game hours. Eighty-five per cent of injuries were caused by trauma and 15% by over-use. Injuries were most often localized to the head/face (39%) or the lower limb (32%). Most injuries resulted from stick contact or player contact including checking. A reduction of minor and moderate injuries should be possible by stricter enforcement of the hockey rules, and more widespread use of visors.
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