Prospective Evaluation of Head Impacts Sustained by Youth Ice Hockey Players: Part II.

Principle Investigator: Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Ph.D. ATC

Institution:UNC-Chapel Hill

Title: Prospective Evaluation of Head Impacts Sustained by Youth Ice Hockey Players; Part II

Abstract: The proposed study is designed to evaluate the association between head impact biomechanics (acceleration) in sports and the risk of concussion, and to use that information to develop interventions for preventing concussive injuries in youth ice hockey and other sports. The study population will include two youth ice hockey teams: Bantam (U14) and Midget (U16) in North Carolina. Hockey helmets will be instrumented with accelerometers capable of measuring linear and rotational accelerations of the head during body collisions. These data are transmitted using the Head Impact Telemetry (HIT) System to a rink side computer. These results will extend our ongoing work studying impact biomechanics in Division IA collegiate football players, as well as continue into a second and third season, our work with youth ice hockey. It is believed this information may shed light on better understanding possible injury thresholds for concussive brain injuries in youth sports, and ultimately a safer playing environment for adolescent and pediatric athletes.

The data from this study will be reviewed and analyzed by experts in injury biomechanics and concussion and disseminated in order to develop new guidelines for safe participation in sports. This study addresses a high priority research theme of better understanding youth concussion. To date, there exists a paucity of literature in this area; we have very little understanding of the biomechanical factors contributing to injury, as well as the cognitive and symptom recovery that follows an injury in this population.

This study will also include extensive preseason baseline and post injury testing, including computerized neuropsychological testing (Immediate Post concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test – ImPACT), mental status assessments (Standardized Assessment of Concussion – SAC), clinical postural stability test (Balance Error Scoring System – BESS), as well as symptom reporting (Postconcussion Symptom Scale – PCSS). We also aim to record player exposure, as measured by time on ice in seconds, in an attempt to better understand risk of concussive injury in the context of how much playing time an athlete may participate in a particular session. As an adjunct to the proposed study, we will also perform motion capture of areas of the ice where impacts predominantly occur (i.e. along boards at blue line, face off circles in the zone, corner of the boards( in order to further understand the kinematic factors that may contribute to delivering and sustaining high-magnitude impacts. It is expected that the findings will serve as the foundation for future prospective clinical and epidemiological studies of youth, adolescent, and adult hockey players.