Skating on Thin Ice: Craniofacial Injuries in Amateur Ice Hockey

Randall G. Pierrot, Lee E. Weber, Erin M. Wolfe, Benjamin R. Slavin, Sarah A. Eidelson, Ethan Plotsker, Prakash J. Mathew, Seth R. Thaller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction:Hockey is a sport of high speeds, projectiles, and slick surfaces. A scenario is ripe for craniofacial injuries. Annually, over 1 million Americans, with many more abroad participate in organized hockey. This number continues to grow at youth, amateur and professional levels. Following the characterization of groups with the highest incidence of hockey-related craniofacial injuries, our goal is to propose guidelines for the acute management of hockey-related craniofacial injuries in amateur settings.Methods:This study follows a 10-year retrospective cohort design, examining hockey-related craniofacial injury data derived from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database. Within the NEISS data, patients were stratified by age, gender, and ethnicity to allow for analysis and comparison between groups.Results:Sample data consisted of 2,544 hockey-related craniofacial injuries treated in US emergency departments between 2010 and 2019. Majority of the injuries included in this analysis involved patients within the 12-18-year-old age group (53.8%). Of the diagnoses, concussion was the most frequent hockey-related craniofacial injury (39.9%). Dental injuries represented the least (1%). In the 12 to 18 age group, the diagnoses concussion, fracture, and laceration differed significantly from the null hypothesis of equality of proportions across all injury types (P < 0.05). Similarly, within the 19 to 34 age group, the diagnoses of concussion, fracture, laceration, and internal injury differed significantly from the null hypothesis of assumed equality of proportion (P < 0.05).Conclusions:High incidence of hockey-related craniofacial injury among patients 12 to 18 years of age signals a need for continued interventions targeted towards this age group. Increased sideline personnel training and education, as well as promoting a stricter adherence to established guidelines are integral parts of a greater strategy towards reducing injury incidence. Working towards reducing injuries and making participation in hockey safer, should be a goal as the sport continues to experience a historic rise in interest and participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1573-1576
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Craniofacial injuries
  • facial trauma
  • hockey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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