Columbia Ortho Publishes Study on Cervical Spine Injuries in the Ice Hockey Player in Global Spine Journal

December 31, 2020

Providers and researchers from Columbia Orthopedics published a comprehensive literature review in the Global Spine Journal. The study titled, “Cervical Spine Injuries in the Ice Hockey Player: Current Concepts in Epidemiology, Management and Prevention,” reviewed the biomechanics of cervical spine injuries occurring in ice hockey players, measures to limit them, as well as optimal management strategies for the injured player and return to play criteria.

The study, authored by Charles A. Popkin, MD and Ronald A. Lehman, MD; resident Paul J. Park, MD; and medical student Cole Morrissette; conducted a review across multiple platforms - including PubMed, Google Scholar, Columbia Libraries Catalog, Cochrane Library and Ovid MEDLINE - to collect data.

“This is an important topic in ice hockey medicine, said Dr. Popkin. “Cervical Spine injuries in ice hockey have the highest incidence of cervical spine injury in American Sport. Studies have estimated the incidence to be between 3-6x rate seen in American Football.”

By understanding the pathophysiology and context in which cervical injuries in ice hockey players occur, researchers hope to reduce players’ chances for injury and successfully manage players if they are injured.

The review found that cervical fractures in ice hockey mostly occur during an increased axial load. “A major cause is checking from behind, which is now a 5:00 minute game misconduct penalty. The most common object for this player to collide with is the boards,” said Dr. Popkin. “Simulations have shown that at speeds of 1.8 m/s can cause cervical fracture and if greater than 3.1 m/s it always causes a fracture. This is concerning, as ice hockey players can skate faster than 12 m/s.”

Further research is still needed to optimize protocols for reducing injury and managing injured players.

Read the full article here.