Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 01, 2006

New U of G Study Finds Whiplash Linked to Concussion in Hockey Players

Hockey players who report symptoms of a concussion after being injured on the ice should also be examined for another serious condition, say researchers from the University of Guelph.

Prof. Jim Dickey and PhD candidate Loriann Hynes of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences determined there’s a relationship between whiplash-associated disorders and concussion in hockey. Their findings were published today in Brain Injury, the official research journal of the International Brain Injury Association.

Whiplash-associated disorders and concussion occurred together in all of the hockey players who sought treatment, regardless of how they were injured, said Dickey, noting that, in addition to collisions with other players or the boards, fighting was the cause of some of the injuries.

The study also shows that the number of symptoms is not strongly associated with the severity of the injury and that the whiplash-associated disorder and concussion symptoms do not resolve at the same rate, he said.

Although a number of studies have been done on whiplash-associated disorders and concussions, few have investigated the possible relationship between these head and neck acceleration and deceleration injuries and the incidence of concussion symptoms, said Hynes, who worked for seven years as an athletic therapist before beginning her master’s program

“Players are getting bounced around with such force that it makes sense to check them for both,” she said, noting that head and neck injuries in hockey and other sports deserve the same attention given to the debilitating whiplash injuries caused by motor-vehicle accidents.

Hockey players can attain speeds of more than 40 kilometres an hour while skating and as high as 24 km an hour while sliding on the ice, said Hynes. “At that speed, the impact of colliding with another player or hitting the boards is comparable with that of a low-speed motor-vehicle accident.”

At the beginning of the 2003/2004 hockey season, 20 athletic therapists were given questionnaires to fill out within 24 hours of examining a player for neck or head injuries. In total, 183 players on 20 teams from the Ontario Hockey League, several universities and colleges, and high school and recreational leagues participated. The age of the players ranged from 15 to 35.

The therapists were asked to provide a variety of information, including the range of symptoms experienced by the player and the severity of each, what protective gear the player was wearing, what direction the athlete was hit from, and the individual’s range of motion in the neck. To help the researchers determine rate of recovery, the therapists completed a follow-up questionnaire seven to 10 days post-injury reporting whether the player was still experiencing symptoms of either injury.

Over a dozen players went to their therapists complaining of symptoms typical of either a whiplash mechanism injury or a direct blow concussion injury. It was determined that, although all of the players were seeking medical attention for only one type of injury, they did, in fact, have symptoms of both.

Hynes said realizing this connection is important because it can directly affect the health of an athlete. “If you’re not taking the time to properly treat a player and then sending them back to play too soon, you’re setting them up for more injuries. As an athletic therapist, I find that very concerning. By being more thorough and realizing the player may be experiencing a secondary injury, we can ensure that athletes are safer.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

Email this entry to:

Message (optional):

Powered by FeedBlitz