Ice hockey is a fast-paced collision sport that entails both intentional (ie, body checking) and incidental contact that may involve the head. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence of concussions in relation to games/practices and age among competition-level youth ice hockey players (ages 12–18 years).
Participants included 397 youth ice hockey players from Western Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; and Birmingham, Alabama, during the 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 youth ice hockey seasons. Incidence rates (IRs) and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of concussion were calculated for games/practices and age groups.
A total of 23 369 (12 784 practice/10 585 game) athletic exposures (AEs) involving 37 medically diagnosed concussions occurred. More than 40% of concussions involved illegal contact. The combined IR for games and practices was 1.58 concussions per 1000 AEs. The IRR was 2.86 times (95% confidence interval 0.68–4.42) higher during games (2.49 per 1000 AEs) than practices (1.04 per 1000 AEs).
The overall IR for concussion in youth ice hockey was comparable to those reported in other youth collision sports. The game-to-practice IRR was lower than previously reported in ice hockey and other youth sports, although more concussions per exposure occurred in games compared with practices. Younger players had a higher rate of concussions than older players.