An injury profile of ice hockey players in South Africa
Van Doesburgh, Donne Claire
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Background: Ice hockey is a fast paced team sport, played on an ice surface in an enclosed arena. As a result of the high contact, aggressive nature of the sport, players are susceptible to injury. Ice hockey is not a popular sport in South Africa and the environment is unique in comparison to international ice hockey countries. The playing surfaces and ice rink arenas differ across South Africa, which may affect the risk of injury in this population. Protective equipment is not easily accessible to ice hockey players in South Africa and therefore they may be at a higher risk of injury. Participation in ice hockey is developing in South Africa; however there is a paucity in the literature relating to injuries in the South African context. This study aimed to determine a profile of ice hockey injuries in South African players. Methodology: This study was a quantitative, descriptive study that used a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered to 187 ice hockey players (141 male and 46 female) who were registered with the South African Ice Hockey Association. Players were required to sign the letter of information and informed consent form, following which, questionnaires were distributed to the participants who met the study criteria. The researcher was present to supervise and collect all forms and completed questionnaires directly after completion. The questionnaire contained sections on demographics, injuries sustained over the previous season as well as the use of protective equipment. The results were analysed using SPSS version 24 and a p value of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: The response rate met the minimum requirement of 138 males and 45 females. Of the 187 participants, 110 (58.8%) of the participants sustained at least one injury due to ice hockey. Age was considered to be a risk factor in this study as those participants in the youngest age group of 18-27 were at a higher risk of all injuries (χ2 p-value < 0.0001). Although gender was not a risk factor for the total number of injuries, female players in this study were at a greater risk of head and knee injuries (χ2 p-value = 0.0196 and χ2 p-value = 0.0046 respectively). The most severe injury affected the head (10.2%, n = 19) and overall the knee was the most commonly affected area of injury (n = 30). The majority of the injuries were sustained during a game and resulted from contact with another player. The results of this study showed that the use of protective equipment does not prevent all injuries in ice hockey. The type of facial protection worn was a risk factor for facial injuries and the lack of a mouthguard was a risk factor for head injuries. Conclusion: The aim of this study was to determine a profile of ice hockey injuries in South African players. The South African demographic profile of ice hockey players showed similarities to international profiles with respect to age, gender, BMI and player position. The profile of injuries in this study was similar to international injury profiles in terms of site, type, severity, onset and mechanism of injury and regarding the majority of injuries being sustained during a game. Ice hockey players in the younger age groups were at a higher risk of injury both in South Africa and internationally. Females were at a higher risk of head injuries in comparison to males which is congruent with international literature. In South Africa, and internationally, the use of full facial protection and a mouthguard was shown to decrease the risk of facial and head injuries respectively. The South African demographic profile differed from international findings in terms of experience level, total hours of training per week and number of games played in a season. The injury profile of South African ice hockey players showed that this population is at a higher risk of muscular injuries than international players. Larger ice surfaces and flexible boards and glass did not reduce the risk of injury in South African ice hockey players in the same way as it has internationally.