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Do helmets worn for hurling fail to protect the ear? Identification of an emerging injury pattern
  1. James D Martin-Smith1,
  2. Jeffery C Y Chan1,
  3. Kieran T Power1,
  4. Paddy J Crowley2,
  5. Anthony James P Clover1
  1. 1Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2General Practitioner, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr James D Martin-Smith, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland; jmartins{at}


Hurling is an Irish national game of stick and ball known for its ferocity, played by 190 000 players. Facial injuries were common but have been significantly reduced by legislation enforcing compulsory helmet wearing. Current standard helmets worn by hurlers do not offer protection to the external ear. Here we describe an emerging pattern of ear injuries and demonstrate the risk of external ear injuries in hurlers complying with current helmet safety standards. A 6-month retrospective analysis was carried out of patients attending Cork University Hospital (CUH) with ear lacerations sustained while hurling. Patient notes were reviewed and helmet manufacturers were interviewed. Seven patients were identified, all of whom sustained complex through ear lacerations while wearing helmets complying with current safety standards. Current helmet design fails to protect the external ear placing it at an increased risk of injury, a potential solution is to include ear protection in the helmet design.

  • Sporting injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Contact sports
  • Protective clothing

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