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Concussion Incidence and Time Lost from Play in the NHL During the Past Ten Years

  • Richard A. Wennberg (a1) and Charles H. Tator (a2)

Abstract

Background:

The problem of concussions in professional hockey has attracted much recent attention. To evaluate the current state of this injury in the National Hockey League (NHL), we analyzed the concussion incidence and time lost from play due to concussions during the past ten NHL seasons.

Methods:

Data were obtained from a complete review of injury reports in two different sports media sources covering the NHL seasons 1997-98 through 2007-08. Time lost from play was measured in missed games per concussion.

Results:

The incidence of concussions reported in the regular season ranged from a high of 1.81/1000 athlete exposures in 1998-99 to a low of 1.04/1000 athlete exposures in 2005-06. There was a downward trend in the number of concussions reported per season during the past ten years (p=0.01). However, average time lost from play per concussion increased over the same period (p<0.0005). Forwards suffered a disproportionately high percentage of concussions (p<0.0001).

Conclusions:

Possibly related to injury reduction efforts, the number of concussions reported per season in the NHL has trended downward in recent years. However, the incidence of concussion remains high and the average time lost from play per concussion has increased. This may reflect increased injury severity in recent years or, alternatively, increased adherence to modern management guidelines preventing premature return to play.

RÉSUMÉ: Contexte:

La commotion cérébrale est un problème qui a retenu l'attention récemment. Nous avons analysé l'incidence de la commotion cérébrale et le temps d'absence du jeu dû à la commotion cérébrale au cours des dix dernières saisons dans la LNH afin de faire le point sur ce type de blessure.

Méthodes:

Nous avons obtenu les données de revues complètes des rapports de blessures au cours des saisons 1997-98 à 2007-08, publiées par deux sources de couverture médiatique sportive. L'absence du jeu a été mesurée en nombre de parties manquées par commotion cérébrale.

Résultats:

L'incidence la plus élevée de commotion cérébrale rapportée au cours de la saison régulière était de 1,81/1000 expositions-athlète en 1998-99 et la plus basse de 1,04/1000 expositions-athlète en 2005-06. Nous avons observé une tendance à la baisse dans le nombre de commotions cérébrales rapportées par saison au cours des dix dernières années (p = 0,01). Cependant l'absence moyenne du jeu par commotion cérébrale a augmenté au cours de la même période (p < 0,0005). Les joueurs avant ont subi un pourcentage très élevé de commotions cérébrales (p < 0,0001).

Conclusions:

Nous avons observé une tendance à la baisse du nombre de commotions cérébrales rapporté par saison dans la LNH au cours des dernières années, possiblement due aux efforts déployés en ce sens. Cependant, l'incidence demeure élevée et le temps moyen d'absence du jeu par événement a augmenté, ce qui pourrait s'expliquer par une augmentation de la sévérité des blessures au cours des dernières années ou par un plus grand respect des lignes directrices modernes de traitement empêchant un retour au jeu prématuré.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Toronto Western Hospital, 399 Bathurst St., Suite 5W444, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2S8, Canada.

References

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