Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article
Ice hockey is one of the fastest sports and
requires good physical conditioning and skating skills. It is a team sport
played from the ages of 5 to 6 years through adulthood.
The severity of injuries is related to speed and
physical contact (body checking). In the United States, body checking is allowed
in league hockey at the age of 11 to 12 years, although the age can be younger
in some leagues.
As player size and the speed of the game increase,
injury rates and the severity of injury also rise. However, the risk of injuries
can be reduced.
The following is information from the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to prevent ice hockey injuries. Also
included is an overview of common ice hockey injuries.
Equipment. Safety gear
should fit properly and be well maintained.
Skates should fit
well with socks on. Skates that are too tight can lead to
blisters and frostbite.
Pads. Elbow, knee,
and shoulder pads that fit properly and allow for full movement.
Kidney- and thigh-padded shorts that overlap protective socks
and shin guards so no skin is showing. Padded hockey gloves to
protect the fingers and wrists from stick slashing and sharp
(neck guards, protective cups, and mouth guards)
Helmets with face
guards approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification
Council (HECC). Cracked helmets or helmets with outdated HECC
certificates should not be used.
Goalie equipment is
even more specialized, with a different helmet and mask, thicker
padding, and skates with longer, thicker blades for stability
and reinforcement along the inner foot for protection from pucks
Equipment care. Dirty
hockey equipment can lead to skin infections, especially where the
hockey gear touches the skin directly. The "infamous"
hockey bag smell is due to the growth of bacteria and other germs.
Almost all equipment can be washed in a commercial washing machine.
Helmets and face masks can be disinfected with antibacterial wipes, and
the inside of leather gloves and gear bags can be cleaned with spray
cleaners. Mouth guards should be washed after each use.
Many rinks have special
"dry" cleaning machines that disinfect an entire bag of
gear. To decrease the growth of germs, gear should be taken out of the
bag after every practice or game, and the bag and gear dried out
completely before repacking.
Environment. Only walk or
skate on a pond or natural body of water that has received safe ice
approval from local officials. Also, goal net posts should be easily
removed so they are not dangerous obstacles during fast play.
Emergency plan. Hockey
programs can organize and train a team to respond to injuries during
games, as it is rare to stop play while players are treated off the ice.
The plan would include first aid and emergency contact information. All
members of the team should receive a written copy each season. Parents
also should be familiar with the plan and review it with their
There is a common misconception that
athletes who play in cold weather do not need to drink as much as those
playing in warm weather. In fact, hockey players training in cold
environments wear more clothing and may be unaware they are losing body
moisture. Dehydrated athletes often perform poorly in multiple game
situations like tournaments and during the last period of a game.
Hydration should take place before, during,
and after games and practices. In general, athletes should drink 5 to 8
ounces of water or an appropriate sports drink every 20 minutes, even if
they do not feel thirsty. Players not responding well, unable to drink, or
with difficulty breathing may need emergency medical attention.
Exercise-induced asthma is prevalent
in hockey players who are prone to asthma because hockey is played
in cold weather under dry conditions. Skaters should have a personal
asthma action plan. Asthmatic skaters can prevent episodes by taking
their medicines and using an inhaler before practices or games.
Inhalers and spacers should always be on hand during activity.
Skaters should stop skating and see a doctor if they have difficulty
breathing while skating.
Cold weather, wet clothing, and
tight-fitting skates can lead to poor circulation and frostbite. Early signs
of frostbite are pale or white skin with numbness and tingling of the
exposed body part. It is important to dress in layers and wear wicking,
fast-drying wool or polypropylene underwear and socks. Cotton clothing is
not warm when wet and can contribute to frostbite and hypothermia by
lowering the body temperature. Treat frostbite by increasing circulation and
warming cold body parts in a heated room or under the clothes. Change wet
Concussions in hockey most often occur from
a blow to the head, from falls, or from being checked into the boards. A
concussion is any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on
a temporary or permanent basis.
The signs and symptoms of a concussion range
from subtle to obvious and usually happen right after the injury but may
take hours to days to show up. Athletes who have had concussions may report
feeling normal before their brain has fully recovered. With most
concussions, the player is not knocked out or
Prematurely returning to play after a
concussion can lead to another concussion or even death. An athlete with a
history of concussion may be more susceptible to another injury than an
athlete with no history of concussion.
All concussions are serious, and all athletes with suspected
concussions should not return to play until they see a doctor.
Youth hockey programs in the United States
and Canada have active head injury prevention programs for athletes and
coaches. Safe play and properly fitting helmets can prevent concussions, as
does striking the boards at an angle with the head up when a collision
can't be avoided.
Injuries of the extremities should be
treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help reduce pain and swelling, but
should be taken with food. Injured athletes should see their doctor if they
have pain while playing.
Upper extremity injuries of
the shoulder, arm, and wrist occur during falls or from
being checked into the boards. Shoulder dislocations are very
painful until put back into place. Persistent wrist or arm pain
after a fall can signify a broken bone (even if there is no visible
swelling or deformity) and should be iced and immobilized until it
can be treated by a doctor.
Groin strains are
pulled or torn muscles or tendons of the inner thigh. Hockey players
and goalies doing forced push offs or slides on skates may get this
injury. Treatments that may help are ice, NSAIDs, thigh wraps,
physical therapy, and modification of activity. Groin strains can be
prevented by warming up properly and doing muscle stretching as a
part of team practices and games.
Knee injuries are more
common in hockey than ankle injuries because the ankle and Achilles
tendon are protected by a stiff boot. Knee injuries happen when the
knee is forced or twisted to the side or back. If a ligament or
cartilage is torn, a pop may be felt or heard, followed by visible
swelling around the knee.
Overuse injuries, such
as Osgood-Schlatter disease (irritation of the growth plate causing
a painful bony bump below the knee), occur in 10- to 15-year-olds
who play active sports with running, jumping, or skating. In hockey,
a combination of off-ice training, overtraining, and frequent
practices and games may lead to Osgood-Schlatter, thus limiting or
changing activity may help.
In the past, blows from hockey sticks and
flying pucks caused many eye injuries. Now helmets with face masks have
decreased the number of eye injuries, but they still can occur. Any injury
that affects vision or is associated with swelling or blood inside the eye
should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. The AAP recommends that children
involved in organized sports wear appropriate protective eyewear.
Ice hockey injuries can be prevented by treating
injuries appropriately, wearing protective equipment including helmet and face
guards, following the rules of the game, and practicing good sportsmanship.
The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
If you think that you are having a medical emergency,
call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!
And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW
or go to the closest emergency department.
By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither RemedyConnect nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any express or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.
RemedyConnect, Inc. has created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate our firm commitment to your privacy. The following discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for this website: http://www.remedyconnect.com.
Acquisition of Information through PMD
We do not acquire any more information about website visitors than is required by law or is otherwise necessary to provide a high level of service efficiently and securely. Our site's registration form requires users to give us contact information (e.g., their name and e-mail address) and demographic information (e.g., children's birth months, but not birth dates). We use customer contact information from the registration form to (1) send the user pertinent medical and parenting information and (2) allow your local health provider lists of who is registering on that provider's site as a parent/guardian, staff member, doctor, or visitor. Users may opt-out of receiving future mailings; see the choice/opt-out section below.
We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our Website. Your IP address is used to help identify you and to gather broad demographic information.
Demographic and profile data is also collected at our site. We may use this data to tailor the visitor's experience at our site, showing them content that we think they might be interested in, and displaying the content according to their preferences.
Our site may use order forms to allow users to request information, products, and services.
Your Doctor's Right to Privacy
We will respect your doctor's right to privacy. A doctor typically does not give his/her e-mail address to the parents/guardians of patients. We will not provide the e-mail addresses of doctor(s) in the local practice to users of their site without the doctor(s)' permission. Their site is restricted to use by whomever they wish, and they may deny access to their site to one or more prior users. In unusual cases, doctors may change their private site's access code and arrange for us to e-mail the new access code to approved users.
This site contains links to other sites. RemedyConnect.com is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Websites. See Disclaimers.
Disclosure to Third Parties
We will provide individually-identifiable information about website users to third parties only if we are compelled to do so by order of a duly-empowered governmental authority, we have the express permission of the visitor, or it is necessary to process transactions and provide you services from our affiliates: Live Agent Answering Service, Digital Answering Service, Medical Answering Service and Pediatric Answering Service.
Privacy and Our Business Partners
This site may make chat rooms, forums, message boards, and/or news groups available to its users. Please remember that any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information.
This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. For further information regarding our security, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any concerns regarding the security of information, please do not provide any information to RemedyConnect, Inc. until you are comfortable with our security measures.
You may correct or update your User Registration information at any time, by visiting the User Registration section and providing your personal password that you set at registration. If need be, please email us at email@example.com.
Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving e-mail communications from our partners or us, except communications approved by your doctor's practice office. To so opt-out, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be removed as a user, please email us at the same address. If need be, you may mail requests to us at RemedyConnect, Inc., 9200 E. Mineral Avenue, Suite 100, Centennial, CO 80112. Our telephone number is 303-793-0703.
Contacting the Website
If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this Website, you can contact us by email at email@example.com or by mail at our address above.