Injuries in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and Olympic Winter Games

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Arvo building, auditorium F115, address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34.


Markku Tuominen

Doctoral defence of Lic.Med. Markku Tuominen

Injuries in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and Olympic Winter Games

The field of science of the dissertation is Administrative science.

The opponent is professor Lars Engebretsen (University of Oslo, Norge). Professor Ville Mattila acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

Injuries in International Top-level Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is a fast contact sport with a high risk of injury. During a game, players reach high skating velocities and change rapidly the skating direction. The fast-moving puck, swinging sticks and six players per team in a small space also contributes to the increased risk of injury.

The efforts to decrease the number and severity of injuries in ice hockey are based on rules and protective equipment. The current doctoral thesis of Markku Tuominen, MD, is based on the data of injuries in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games in 2006-2015.
The highest risk for injury was in the men’s tournaments. Head and especially face injuries were common in men’s and male junior under-20 tournaments where full-facial protection is not mandatory. The risk of knee injury was two times higher in men’s and female under-18 tournaments compared with male junior and women’s tournaments.  Compared to adult women, a similar result was also found in head injuries during female under-18 tournaments: the risk of concussion in female under-18 tournaments was equal to the risk of concussion in men’s and male junior under-18 and under-20 tournaments. The risk of concussion caused by illegal hits decreased in men’s A-pool tournaments during the study period. The highest injury rate for shoulder injuries were in male under-18 tournaments and in men’s tournaments. More than half of the shoulder injuries occurred with the board contact.

The risk of shoulder injury was 60 percent lower when games were played on rinks with flexible board and glass. The risk of board-contact concussions was six times higher in games played on rinks with traditional boards and glass compared rinks with flexible boards and glass. Installation of flexible boards and glass, as well as elimination of illegal hits, are thus highly recommended for all future tournaments, especially in men’s and male under-18 tournaments where a high number of injuries occurred with board contact.

This thesis also showed that the use of full-facial protection decreases the risk of injury for facial and dental injuries. Mandatory use of full-facial protection is a great opportunity to reduce the risk of facial injuries, especially among male junior under-20s who have the highest injury rate. Further studies are needed to explain the differences in the knee injury risk between different age groups. These injuries could be prevented with proper neuromuscular training.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2293, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1796, Tampere University Press 2017.

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