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Head Impact Exposure in Youth Ice Hockey

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abstract
Ice hockey is a popular collision sport characterized by frequent, intentional player-to-player contact. Despite sustaining fewer impacts than American football athletes, ice hockey athletes are exposed to similar rates of concussion, regardless of gender. Despite the relatively high risk of injury, the large majority of head impacts sustained in ice hockey are non-concussive (i.e., they do not result in the overt signs and symptoms of clinically-diagnosed concussion). However, recent evidence suggests that repetitive exposure to subconcussive impacts may be associated with functional and microstructural brain changes, even after a single season of play. In an effort to understand biomechanical determinants of head impact exposure, a number of studies have quantified on-ice exposure with wearable head impact sensors. However, interpretation of the head kinematics (i.e., head motion) reported in these studies may be limited by the accuracy of the sensors utilized. The research in this thesis quantified head impact exposure in a sample of youth ice hockey athletes using a previously-validated mouthpiece sensor, which is associated with improved skull coupling and accuracy. Frequency and magnitude of on-ice head kinematics were compared by session type, player position, body region, and contact type. A sample of impacts were then analyzed to quantify player speed and characterize impact direction. The results presented in this thesis represent an important addition to the existing literature; head kinematics in this study may be more accurate than in existing studies, due to the improvements in sensor coupling. Characterizations in this thesis may help inform future efforts towards improving ice hockey safety by informing evidence-based interventions aimed at reducing head impact exposure.
subject
concussion
head impact exposure
head kinematics
ice hockey
injury biomechanics
youth
contributor
Swenson, Abigail Glazier (author)
Urban, Jillian E (committee chair)
Stitzel, Joel D (committee member)
Flashman, Laura A (committee member)
date
2021-06-03T08:36:19Z (accessioned)
2021 (issued)
degree
Neuroscience (discipline)
2026-05-17 (liftdate)
embargo
2026-05-17 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/98837 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Head Impact Exposure in Youth Ice Hockey
type
Thesis

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