Methods: This is a prospective cohort study (Alberta, Canada). Bantam (13-14 years) and Midget (15-17 years) male and female elite (top 20% by division of play) youth ice hockey players participated in this study. Players completed a demographic and medical history questionnaire and clinical test battery at the beginning of the season. A previously validated injury surveillance system was used to document exposure hours and injury during one season of play (8 months). Players with a suspected ice hockey–related concussion were referred to the study sport medicine physicians for assessment. Time loss from hockey participation was documented on an injury report form.
Results: Overall, 778 elite youth ice hockey players (659 males and 119 females; aged 13-17 years) participated in this study. In total, 143 concussions were reported. The concussion incidence rate (IR) was 17.60 concussions/100 players (95% CI, 15.09-20.44). The concussion IR was 1.31 concussions/1000 player-hours (95% CI, 1.09-1.57). Time loss of greater than 10 days was reported in 74% of cases (106/143), and 20% (n = 28) had time loss of greater than 30 days.
Conclusions: Concussion is a common injury in elite youth ice hockey players. In this study population, a large proportion of concussions (74%) resulted in a time loss of greater than 10 days, possibly reflecting more conservative management or longer recovery in youth athletes.