Epidemiology of Foot and Ankle Injuries in Men's and Women's College Ice Hockey

September 30, 2019
Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine cover.
Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine cover.

Ice hockey has one of the highest injury rates, in college athletes, due to the fast paced, collision characteristics of the sport. As a result, lower extremity injuries, particularly foot and ankle injuries, are common for players. Columbia Orthopedics providers David P. Trofa, MD, J. Turner Vosseller, MD, Lauren H. Redler, MD, and Charles A. Popkin, MD examined the epidemiology of foot and ankle injuries in college ice hockey players, using data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance Program (NCAA-ISP). The study titled “Epidemiology of Foot and Ankle Injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey,” hypothesized that male players sustain more injuries, than female players, and that these injuries are more severe, given the difference in body checking rules in men’s and women’s ice hockey and the body build of male players. Providers also hypothesized that the most common foot and ankle injury overall, in both men and women, is a high ankle sprain.

The study, published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, analyzed 2004-14 men’s and women’s ice hockey NCAA-ISP data, collected by athletic trainers during college practices and games. The data captured a wide range of information on the injury and how the injury occurred including diagnosis, location, practice/game, and activity. Of the 552,623 athlete exposures (AE) in men’s ice hockey, 413 of those exposures were foot and ankle injuries. In comparison, 231,928 AEs in women’s hockey resulted in 103 foot and ankle injuries. The most common foot and ankle injury sustained by both men and women was a sprain. The most common specific foot and ankle injury overall for men was a foot/toe contusion, and for women was a low ankle sprain.

Providers found that the overall rate of foot and ankle injuries was higher for men than women, over the 10-year period, and that men sustained 4 times as many injuries as women. These findings supported their hypothesis that male players sustain a higher number of injuries than female players but did not support their hypothesis that high ankle sprains would be the most common injury in both men and women.

“[Our] study on foot & ankle injuries in hockey showed contusions [as the] most common injury in men and low ankle sprain [as the] most frequent injury in women,” stated Dr. Popkin. “High ankle sprains were responsible for [the] most severe time loss away from the rink in all players.”

These findings may give insight to future injury prevention programs and offer suggestions on where to improve the construction and design of ice hockey skates.

Read the full article here.