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Healthy Roster provides patient engagement, care coordination, telemedicine and outreach tools for Sports Medicine, Orthopedics and other medical specialties. We enable patients to communicate with providers, reducing communication gaps, phone tag, and readmissions. Use with Home Health & SNF’s to manage CJR and Cardiac bundled payments.


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Staying Awake: Addressing Sleep Deprivation in College Athletes

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Staying Awake

Addressing Sleep Deprivation in College Athletes

It’s no grand secret that college students aren’t getting enough sleep. For many, it’s practically a point of pride. Walk on to any college campus and you’ll probably hear students boasting about how they stayed up all night studying for their midterm exam, or how they only made it to class because they chugged half a pot of coffee after going to a party on a Tuesday night. College is a calendar-filler, and when you’re constantly trying to balance your 16 credit hours with your clubs, social life, homework, and finding an internship, sleep has a way of falling by the wayside.

...On average, NCAA student-athletes report four nights of insufficient sleep per week (the average American adult reports two) and that one-third of student-athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night (compared to the recommended 7-9 hours for young adults).

And of course, when you add on top of all of that the packed itinerary of being a college athlete, the problem only gets exacerbated. Considering the intense practice schedule, travel for competitions, and desire to spend time with their teammates, it’s no wonder that, on average, NCAA student-athletes report four nights of insufficient sleep per week (the average American adult reports two) and that one-third of student-athletes get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night (compared to the recommended 7-9 hours for young adults).

Some athletes might view this as something to strive for, operating under the assumption that a sleepless lifestyle is what you have to push yourself to in order to be successful. But, in fact, the opposite is true — given the physical, emotional, and cognitive consequences of sleep deprivation, it’s essential that athletes get enough sleep if they want to perform their best. Student athletes and athletic trainers should make it a priority to monitor and improve their sleeping patterns in order to enhance their performance.

Physical Consequences

A possible underlying assumption to the idea that you can “push through” sleep deprivation is the thought that it’s all in your head. Your brain just feels tired, so as long as you’re strong enough mentally, you can grin and bear it — right? Wrong. Failing to get enough sleep on a regular basis can also affect your body physically. For instance, the healing that occurs when we’re asleep is essential to muscle growth, as our bodies work to repair the damage inflicted during practice or games and recharge for the next day. Poor sleep patterns or shorter sleep durations can also lead to weight gain. So if you’re neglecting to get your eight hours in every night, don’t be surprised if you’re struggling a bit the next time you hit the weight room.

Emotional Consequences

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lack of sleep affects our emotions in a negative manner. After all, if we asked you to close your eyes and picture someone who’s sleep-deprived, we’re guessing you wouldn’t be imagining someone with bright eyes and a big smile across their face. And for student-athletes in particular, a positive mood is key to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and problems with relationships, as well as serious mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Any of these conditions alone could lead to a decreased performance on the field or in the classroom — all of them combined could be catastrophic.  

Perhaps most importantly, sleep provides us with the energy, focus, and lowered blood pressure we need to deal with stress — and with the pressure to maintain their GPA while succeeding in their sport, student-athletes are rarely strangers to stress. That sort of worrying is often the kind of motivator that can push student-athletes into making unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as craving junk food or over-consuming alcohol. So while your stress about the exam tomorrow or the big game this weekend might be the very thing encouraging you to stay up late, consider instead the alternative benefits of a good night’s rest.

Cognitive Consequences

When we’re asleep, our mind sorts through, evaluates, and integrates all of the information we took in during the day, meaning that a lack of sleep can actually result in a loss of memory. Additionally, sleep loss impairs our decision-making skills, our ability to focus and think clearly, and our reaction time. Obviously this can all result in negative consequences on both sides of the student-athlete coin. An individual who can’t focus or react quickly will perform just as poorly on their calculus test as they will at their lacrosse game.

But the cognitive implications of sleep deprivation extend into our everyday lives as well. Staying awake for 22 hours straight has the same effect on your reaction time as consuming four alcoholic drinks. So getting behind the wheel while sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. In fact, drowsy driving is responsible for thousands of car crashes every year, many of them fatal. Considering all they have to lose, student athletes should be proactive about getting enough sleep to keep themselves and their teammates safe.

Greater Risk of Injury

In addition to the increased risk that accompanies any sort of cognitive impairment (see above), sleep deprivation can put an athlete at a greater risk for injury in general. While recommending a later school start time for middle and high school students, Dr. Jim MacDonald from The Ohio State University, cited studies that found that sleep deprivation is linked to both overuse and fatigue injuries. Dr. Brian Hainline of the NCAA pointed to a study that showed that “if an athlete is progressively sleep deprived over a period of 12 weeks, their neuromuscular performance will continue to diminish, even when the athlete believes that, after three days, they are back to normal.” If nothing else, this increased chance of injury should be enough to motivate athletes to seek a better sleep schedule.

Getting More Sleep

Okay, you might be thinking, but what can we really do? Given the difficult demands of a student-athlete’s schedule, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s simply no way around the lack of sleep. And while the occasional late-night study session won’t kill you, you should make an effort to establish an adequate and habitual sleep schedule — and there are plenty of small steps you can take to do so.

One important action is to reduce your amount of screen time before bed. Because this generation of student athletes grew up in the digital era, they’re more prone to ending the day by looking at their phone or TV or computer. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that teenagers engage in an average of four electronic activities after 9 p.m. While this can be a nice way to unwind after a stressful day or to get some extra work done on assignment before calling it a night, this late-night use of multiple devices has been associated with less nocturnal sleep and more daytime drowsiness. Additionally, studies have suggested that the light emitted from our screens can suppress melatonin levels and disturb the circadian rhythms that regulate our internal sleep schedules.

Another thing to decrease is — gasp! — caffeine consumption. We know — sometimes that extra cup of cold brew is the only thing getting you through your 1:15 Bio lecture. But in addition to having adverse effects on an athlete’s mood and heart health, caffeine can disrupt our sleep patterns. And while it may seem impossible to cut back, keep in mind that caffeine contributes to an unhealthy cycle of drowsiness and sleep deprivation. In other words, if you manage to decrease the amount of caffeine you drink, you’ll be able to sleep more, and with that improved rest, you’ll crave less caffeine!

The NCAA also recommends that athletic departments get involved in maintaining its athletes’ sleep health. By initiating comprehensive sleep disorder screenings and monitoring and assessing athletes’ sleep behaviors, athletic trainers can help athletes better plan their schedules, as well as detect harmful sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Overall, the most efficient way to a healthier sleep pattern is simply establishing a regular schedule. No matter how much work you have, try to set regular lights-out and wake-up times. And lights-out means lights-out — maybe leave your phone across the room so you’re not tempted to check it while falling asleep. If you’re anxious about your demanding schedule, just remind yourself that the time you “lose” by not pulling an all-nighter will be more than made up for by the mood, health, and well-being you’ll gain from your good night’s sleep.

Beyond the Sideline: Athletic Trainers in Unique Environments

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Beyond the Sideline

Athletic Trainers in Unique Environments

When we think of athletic trainers, we tend to picture them standing on the sidelines at youth, college, or professional sporting events, ready to spring into action at the first sign of an injury. It’s right there in the name: athletic trainers support athletes. Right? Well, not entirely. In fact, ATs are healthcare professionals whose skills and expertise are being utilized across a variety of environments — not just in the world of sports. As March is National Athletic Trainer Month, we’re celebrating how and why ATs Are Healthcare, and to kick things off, we’ve decided to shine a light on some other settings where you will regularly find ATs employed.

From the workplace to the battlefield, here are just some of the industries being supported and improved by the hard work of certified athletic trainers.


In many ways, sports represent a simulated battle between two opposing sides. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that athletic trainers are essential to those preparing for actual battle as well. Whether they’re just starting out at boot camp or seeing regular combat, members of our armed forces are at risk for injuries such as sprains, strains, and concussions, and thus, it’s essential for ATs to be on-site to help evaluate and treat them, as well as provide screening and aid in injury prevention. Formed in 2001, the Armed Forces Athletic Trainers’ Society (AFATS) aims to “advance, encourage, supplement and improve the profession of athletic training by developing the common interests of its membership for the purpose of enhancing the quality of US Armed Forces Health Care.” Today, you can find ATs in a variety of military settings across the country, from Fort Benning to Officer Candidate School in Quantico. And in coming years, AT involvement in our armed forces will only be increasing. The Marine Corps is expected to invest up to $8.6 million annually on experienced athletic trainers over the next four years as they seek to expand and assign ATs to expeditionary forces.


There’s a reason NASA doesn’t let just anyone explore the solar system. Given the millions of dollars and extensive brain power that go into planning and executing a successful space mission, it’s imperative that astronauts are in peak physical condition — any injury could be incredibly costly. Furthermore, because astronauts face zero gravity while rocketing through the cosmos, they’re placed at risk for muscle atrophy and a decrease in bone density. With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that NASA keeps athletic trainers on staff to limit the risk of injury by helping astronauts get in shape for flights, stay in shape during a mission, and return to peak condition once they return to Earth. Known as the Astronaut Strength, Conditioning and Rehabilitation group (ASCR), this team of ATs and strength and conditioning specialists focus specifically on musculoskeletal injuries during all phases of spaceflight. And we mean all phases — you might be surprised to learn that a good chunk of astronaut injuries occur while getting into or taking off their cumbersome spacesuit! Whether or not that plays into your romantic ideal of a job at NASA, there’s no doubt that providing healthcare to the planet’s greatest explorers is a job that’s truly out of this world.


Any fan of “The Office” probably remembers Toby’s not-so-exhilarating presentation on safety training day. And while we certainly hate to criticize such a classic show, it’s important to note that Michael’s description of these injury prevention practices as “lame” is misleading. In fact, more and more forward-thinking employers are beginning to see the physical and mental health benefits of implementing stretches, exercises, and lifestyle strategies into the workplace and are therefore electing to hire on-site athletic trainers. Workplace settings for ATs range from traditional offices — where they focus on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) that can be caused by repetitive motions, confined spaces, static posture, improper tool use, and uncontrolled climates — to industrial environments. In the latter cases, industrial workers typically face the same physical demands as traditional athletes but lack the means to properly manage their body fitness. They often falsely believe that their work on the floor keeps them in shape, meaning they don’t need to devote extra time to their fitness. ATs can help them develop fitness strategies, identify risk factors, and promote healthier choices — and that is far from lame!

Performing Arts

Not every world-class athlete wears a uniform and plays on a field; many instead don costumes and take to the stage eight times a week. From actors to dancers to musicians to trapeze artists to… well… however you would describe the Blue Man Group, performing arts groups around the globe rely on athletic trainers. With their knowledge of musculoskeletal injuries and prevention strategies, ATs can analyze a performance area for potential hazards, educate performers on strategies for mitigating risk (a high percentage of performance arts injuries are overuse), and evaluate an injury quickly — as, after all, the show must go on. Any AT with an interest or a background in creative arts will find working within a performance setting incredibly rewarding, as they’ll have the opportunity to touch the lives of the performers and ultimately feel an integral part of the final performance.


Ever dream of making it in Hollywood? Well, good news: your career as an AT doesn’t preclude you from a job in Tinsel Town. Just look at Sandy Krum, an athletic trainer who, after years working for professional baseball teams, took a job as the Head Athletic Trainer for “The Biggest Loser.” He’d go on to work with contestants on the reality program for 11 years, while also overseeing other shows such as “American Gladiator” and “Losing It with Jillian Michaels.” Sandy is just one example of the countless dedicated athletic trainers working within the entertainment industry, where they report to studios and location shoots to provide healthcare and preventative education to contestants, stuntmen, and myriad other on-set workers. Even World Wrestling Entertainment hires ATs to work with their wrestlers — and, given the intense nature of the WWE, we’re glad to hear it!

At Healthy Roster, we work with athletic trainers in many different environments, from high schools to colleges to industrial to performing arts. To learn more about how Healthy Roster can help you document and communicate more effectively and efficiently, click here.

Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest


It’s hard to believe that February is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were reviewing winter safety tips, and now schools are gearing up for the spring season! But before we trade in the hockey skates and wrestling mats for tennis rackets and lacrosse sticks, we thought we’d take a moment to think about American Heart Month.

One of the most serious cardiac issues facing athletes today is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Though SCA technically has its own awareness month, it’s never a bad time to review the warning signs and prevention measures — after all, being properly prepared just might save a life.

A little background

SCA is a condition in which the heart “suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.” When this happens, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops, which can lead to unconsciousness, permanent brain damage, and death all within a matter of minutes. Almost 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals in the U.S. each year, including the 2,000 patients under the age of 25 who die of SCA annually.

It’s important to understand that SCA is not a heart attack. A heart attack, or a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when blockage within a blood vessel prevents oxygen from reaching the heart tissue. SCA, on the other hand, is a cessation of the heart’s pumping caused by arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat prompted by issues within the heart’s electrical system. While some MIs can additionally cause cardiac arrest, there are numerous other conditions that can trigger an SCA-inducing arrhythmia.

Because intense physical activity is one of the stresses that can cause the heart’s electrical system to fail, SCA is a serious concern for athletes. (In fact, one of the first reported cases was Pheidippides, the Greek soldier who collapsed after running 24 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce victory over the Persians.) Another common cause is Commotio Cordis. Caused by a “blunt, non-penetrating blow to the chest,” Commotio Cordis accounts for 20 percent of sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes.

While athletes with underlying heart issues are at a higher risk, as many as 80 percent are asymptomatic until SCA occurs, and some causes won’t be detected through pre-participation screening. Furthermore, SCA can occur in athletes who exhibit no risk factors and appear otherwise healthy. It’s thus imperative that athletic trainers understand how to recognize and react to SCA as quickly as possible.

Signs and symptoms

Just one in 10 students who suffer SCA survive, but survival rates improve drastically when proper steps are taken within three to five minutes of collapse. In fact, the greatest factor affecting survival is the time from arrest to defibrillation. If an athletic trainer can recognize the symptoms of SCA within a quick window, they can optimize the chances of saving the athlete’s life.

While any unexpected collapse should warrant consideration of SCA, additional symptoms in male athletes include chest, ear, or neck pain; severe headache; excessive breathlessness; vague discomfort; dizziness and palpitations; abnormal fatigue; and indigestion or heartburn. In female athletes, symptoms include center chest pain that comes and goes; lightheadedness; shortness of breath; pressure, squeezing or fullness; nausea or vomiting; cold sweats; and pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, back jaw, or stomach. Additionally, seizure-like activity occurs in half of young athletes with SCA, so seizures should be perceived as SCA until proven otherwise.

Prevention and preparedness

All athletes should undergo cardiovascular screenings before participating in competitive sports. This should, at minimum, include a comprehensive review of medical and family histories, as well as a physical exam. If possible, an electrocardiogram (ECG) should also be used to identify underlying heart issues that may put an athlete at risk for arrhythmia.

However, as we mentioned above, SCA can occur in athletes who exhibit no risk factors, so it’s essential that schools, clubs, and sports facilities develop an emergency action plan to respond immediately to suspected SCA. This should include recognition of SCA (see above), calling 9-1-1, initiating early CPR beginning with chest compressions, using an AED (see below), and transporting the athlete to a hospital capable of advanced cardiac care. Remember that once the heart stops beating, death is imminent within minutes, so the emergency plan should be activated as soon as possible. It should incorporate an effective communication system, ensure that first responders are trained in CPR and AED use, and be coordinated with the local EMS agency.


Perhaps the most important aspect of a facility’s emergency action plan is its access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED). Studies have shown that the survival rate from SCA drops 10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation, and in cases where CPR is provided and defibrillation occurs within three to five minutes, survival rates have been reported as high as 74 percent. It’s therefore recommended that all facilities have an AED on-site and readily available within three minutes, though one minute is ideal. Additionally, all athletic trainers, medical professionals, coaches, parents, and athletes should be educated annually on their location and use so that an AED shock can be administered swiftly and properly in the event of SCA.

Have a great final week of American Heart Month!

Nutrition Tips for Injured Athletes

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Nutrition Tips for Injured Athletes

On Tuesday, February 19, Healthy Roster is partnering with My Sports Dietician / Eat to Win for a live webinar on whether or not young athletes should use supplements like creatine. Register here for a FREE webinar - Supplement Use and Young Athletes: Is Creatine Safe? Since we were already thinking about sports nutrition, we decided to research nutrition tips for injured athletes.

In a perfect world, every injured athlete would have access to an athletic trainer and a sports dietician. Unfortunately, many athletes don’t have access to both resources, so athletic trainers must often be knowledgeable in many areas - including proper nutrition for injured athletes.

While the post-injury rehabilitation process can often feel long and frustrating to an athlete who’s eager to get back on the field, there are a lot of steps you can take to ensure an efficient recovery. One of the most important things to consider is diet. Nutrition, along with proper physical therapy and an appropriate training regimen, is a key element of the recovery process. Here are six tips to consider when developing your post-injury nutrition plan.

Adjust calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake

All athletes should plan and monitor their energy intake before, during, and after their activity. When injured, however, you should recognize that the change in your exercise regimen, as well as your body’s process of building and repairing muscle, will affect the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat that you should be consuming. Exact adjustments will obviously depend on the individual athlete and the nature of the injury, so you should consult with a sports nutritionist to develop a personal plan. That said some basic things to keep in mind are:

  • An increase in protein intake will help support tissue recovery and repair, as well as rebuild muscle lost during immobilization.

  • While caloric needs will generally decrease during immobilization, you will need to increase your intake again as you enter the rehabilitation phase to support strength training. Additionally, a small weight gain can help when rebuilding muscle.

  • Carbohydrate intake should be lowered to avoid excessive weight gain.

  • Fats such as omega-3’s are essential for the healing process.

Consume nutrient-dense foods

Certain vitamins and minerals are crucial to the recovery process. Vitamin C and zinc, for instance, assist with wound healing and optimizing immune functions, while vitamin A aids in cell growth and development, and vitamin D and calcium support bone health. Therefore, when developing your nutrition plan, you should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and whole-grain breads and pasta. These will distribute a high dose of important micronutrients to your organs and tissues as they recover. It’s also important to maintain a healthy intake of fluids to aid in the delivery of these nutrients.

Avoid healing inhibitors

Seeking out healthy foods is essential to recovery. Equally as important is avoiding those foods that can interfere with your healing. While most athletes know to limit their intake of fried or fatty foods, added sugars, and concentrated sweets, these foods can be even more damaging while you’re immobile and your body is repairing and rebuilding muscle. You should also keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. Alcohol is one of the worst things you can consume as an injured athlete: it dehydrates you, interferes with recovery and muscle rebuilding, and negatively affects your hormone behavior and vitamin function. On top of all of that, it makes you crave exactly those types of foods you should be avoiding. So as tempting as a cold beer might seem while an adult athlete is off the field for awhile, try to stick to water throughout your recovery.

Seek psychological support

Athletes are rightfully passionate about their sports. But because they often define their self-identity and measure their self-esteem against their performance, being sidelined for an extended period of time can put them at risk for psychological distress. The Journal of Athletic Training has even developed a scale that “measures the psychological readiness of injured athletes to return to sport participation.” What does this have to do with nutrition? The decrease in confidence and increase in anxiety about returning to the field of play that an athlete experiences can lead to food cravings and a reliance on food for comfort. Obviously, such cravings can seriously hamper one’s physical recovery, so athletes who find themselves feeling down while injured shouldn’t hesitate to seek help from mental health professionals.

Utilize a nutrition app

One of the benefits of being an athlete in today’s digital age is the availability of apps to aid in your training and recovery. (*ahem*, have you by any chance heard of Healthy Roster?) Nutrition apps are particularly popular, and while the sheer abundance of choices might feel overwhelming, we don’t hesitate in recommending Eat 2 Win Nutrition. Not only does the app provide customized meal plans and calorie counters for more than 12,000 restaurants, but it allows its users to join a community of nutrition-minded athletes who support each other through accountability and motivate one another through competition. By allowing its users to build a support network of nutrition monitors, Eat 2 Win has positioned itself as the ideal nutrition-tracking app for athletes, coaches, parents, dieticians, and athletic trainers.

Avoid quick-fix recoveries

We get it — being on the sidelines is the worst. You understandably want to suit back up as quickly as possible, but one of the hardest things to accept is the fact that most recoveries take time. There aren’t any magical, quick-fix options, so you should be wary of any products that market themselves as such. For example, oral proteolytic enzymes are often advertised as a speedy recovery solution. While they have been linked to decreased inflammation and other health benefits, there is no indication they accelerate healing past the rate of standard treatment. So if you do get injured, your best course of action is to accept that your recovery will be a gradual process, consult with an athletic trainer and nutritionist, and follow their recommended plans to ready yourself for gameplay. You’ll be back on the field (or court, or ice, or mat) in no time!

Want to limit your chance of injury in the first place? Stay safe this winter by checking out our cold-weather guide to injury prevention!

5 Things You Should Know About Ice Hockey Injuries

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Ice Hockey Injuries

5 Things You Should Know

As the month of February kicks off, ice hockey teams across all levels are entering the latter halves of their season, many of them gearing up for a high-energy playoff run. Given the sport’s incredibly fast pace and frequent body contact, the increased intensity during this time of year can put players at a higher risk for getting hurt. With this in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the most important concepts to understand regarding hockey’s common injuries.

Read through these to ensure that once the puck drops, you’re well prepared for whatever the hockey gods throw your way.

  1. Game Versus Practice

    Even though games account for only 23 percent of all collegiate athlete exposures (AE) — defined as a single player participating in a single game or practice, 65 percent of all hockey injuries occur during game time. Another way to look at this is that injuries occur roughly six times as often in games as in practice.

    To understand why this is, one must consider the violent nature of the sport when played at full intensity. Top hockey athletes can skate at speeds of up to 30 mph and shoot the puck upwards of 100 mph. While penalties prohibit players from certain physical behaviors (e.g. directing contact with their elbows, hitting players from behind), using one’s body to check another player, either at open ice or into the boards, is generally legal — and these sorts of collisions account for more than 50 percent of all injuries. Finally, compared to other contact sports such as football or wrestling, hockey sees few stoppages in play. With all of this in mind, it’s easy to understand why players are much more likely to be injured amid the speed and aggression of game play than at a controlled practice.

  2. Variation

    While there are common injuries that routinely occur across all leagues and levels, some variation can be seen as well. For instance, goalies report lower injury rates (2.7 per 1000 AE) than forwards and defensemen (five per 1000 AE), and among the latter, studies show that forwards have a 2.1 times increased risk of concussion. There are considerable differences between genders as well, with men seeing higher rates of injury across all level of play. (It’s important to remember that, even at the professional level, women are not allowed to body check while men are) However, concussions account for a higher percentage of injuries in women’s hockey (17 percent versus eight percent), while men see a higher rate of upper-body injuries. Finally, there has also been some reported variation across styles of play. While European hockey is heavily focused on maintaining possession, Americans favor a “dump-and-chase” style, in which the attacking team shoots the puck into the offensive zone and skates after it at full speed — a style which can put players at a higher risk for dangerous collisions. It’s important that players understand the way in which their style, position, and gender affect their disposition to certain injuries.

  3. Concussions

    Given hockey’s high level of contact, it’s no surprise that concussions represent the most common injury across all levels, accounting for 18.6 percent of all injuries, as well as the second-most amount of time lost from practice or games. At the collegiate level, concussions are more common in women’s hockey, representing 22 percent of game injuries and 13 percent of practice injuries.

    Lacerations also contribute to the high occurrence of injuries to the head and face. However, leagues have taken considerable measures to decrease this, from penalizing contact to the head to requiring players up to the collegiate level to wear full face masks. Regardless, with the amount of concussions and other head injuries, it’s essential for athletic trainers, players, and coaches to understand how to recognize and treat these conditions.

  4. Body Checking

    As we mentioned before, it’s hockey’s uniquely fast play and high rate of body collisions that contribute to many of its injuries. For instance, the acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain, which accounts for 59 percent of all shoulder injuries, occurs more often once male players reach the age in which they’re allowed to body check. Especially when hit into the boards (legally), players who are checked often have their AC joint placed in a position to absorb a lot of force.

    Because of this, body checking has received much of the focus with regard to injury prevention in recent years, particularly in youth hockey. For instance, in 2011, USA Hockey increased the level of play at which body checking was allowed from Pee Wee (11-12 years old) to Bantam (13-14). Despite arguments that kids should learn to check “properly” at a young age, the rules change was followed by a 20 percent decrease in overall injury, with 23 percent drop in fractures and a 41 percent decrease in internal organ damage.

  5. Unique Injuries

    Ice hockey’s setting and style puts its players at a predisposition for certain injuries not as common in other sports. For example, the unique athletic movement involved in skating places demands on the pelvis and hip that can be difficult to manage if the player has suffered a past injury to their adductor or has inadequate adduction strength. As such players transition from one leg to the other during a stride, the loss of pelvic control can lead to a groin strain — one of the most frequently occurring ice hockey injuries. Also distinctive to the sport is the syndesmosis injury, or “high ankle sprain.” Hockey skates are stiff enough to support one’s ankle, but the combination of one’s elevation off the ice (due to the skate blade) and the high speeds and quick directional changes while skating can leave the lower leg just above the ankle at risk for rotational injury.