A comparison of the magnitude and duration of linear and rotational head accelerations generated during hand-, elbow- and shoulder-to-head checks delivered by hockey players
An exciting new paper has been published involving cluster members Drs. Stephen Robinovitch and Vicki Komisar along with the rest of their team on what happens to head accelerations when punched, elbowed, or shouldered in the head by collegiate hockey players.
Ice hockey has the highest rates for concussion among team sports in Canada. In elite play, the most common mechanism is impact to the head by an opposing player’s upper limb, with shoulder-to-head impacts accounting for twice as many concussions as elbow- and hand-to-head impacts combined. Improved understanding of the biomechanics of head impacts in hockey may inform approaches to prevention. In this study, we measured the magnitude and duration of linear and rotational head accelerations when hockey players (n=11; aged 21-25) delivered checks “as hard as comfortable” to the head of an instrumented dummy with their shoulder, elbow and hand. There were differences in both peak magnitude and duration of head accelerations across upper limb impact sites, based on repeated-measures ANOVA (p<0.005). Peak linear head accelerations averaged 1.9-fold greater for hand and 1.3-fold greater for elbow than shoulder (mean values=20.35, 14.23 and 10.55 g, respectively). Furthermore, peak rotational head accelerations averaged 2.1-fold greater for hand and 1.8-fold greater for elbow than shoulder (1097.9, 944.1 and 523.1 rad/s2, respectively). However, times to peak linear head acceleration (a measure of the duration of the acceleration impulse) were 2.1-fold longer for shoulder than elbow, and 2.5-fold longer for shoulder than hand (12.26, 5.94 and 4.98 ms, respectively), and there were similar trends in the durations of rotational head acceleration. Our results show that, in body checks to the head delivered by varsity-level hockey players, shoulder-to-head impacts generated longer durations but lower magnitude of peak head acceleration than elbow- and hand-to-head impacts.Journal of Biomechanics