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Am J Sports Med. 2002 Jan-Feb;30(1):39-44.

A comparison of facial protection and the incidence of head, neck, and facial injuries in Junior A hockey players. A function of individual playing time.

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Department of Orthopedics, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


A cohort of 282 elite amateur ice hockey players were analyzed to 1) record the number, type, location, and severity of head, neck, and facial injuries sustained during games; 2) examine the relationship between injuries and the type of facial protection (none, partial, or full) according to individual playing time; and 3) determine whether full or partial facial protection is associated with an increased incidence of concussions, eye injuries, and neck injuries. Fifty-two injuries (158.9 per 1000 player-game hours) occurred in players wearing no facial protection, 45 (73.5 per 1000 player-game hours) in players wearing partial facial protection (half shield), and 16 (23.2 per 1000 player-game hours) in players wearing full facial protection (full cage or shield). Players wearing no protection were injured at a rate more than twice that of players wearing partial protection and almost seven times higher than those wearing full protection. Concussions occurred in four players wearing no protection, five players wearing partial protection, and two players wearing full protection; these differences were not significant. The risk of eye injury was 4.7 times greater for players wearing no protection compared with those wearing partial protection. No eye or neck injuries occurred in players wearing full protection. This study demonstrates that both full and partial facial protection significantly reduce injuries to the eye and face without increasing neck injuries and concussions.

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