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Orthop J Sports Med


BACKGROUND: Ice hockey referees and linesmen are at risk for musculoskeletal injuries because of the lack of protective equipment and contact with players, sticks, pucks, the ice surface and boards.

PURPOSE: To quantify and analyze injuries reported by officials of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

METHODS: A 61-question survey tool was designed by an interdisciplinary team to evaluate musculoskeletal injuries experienced by ice hockey officials. This survey was administered to 600 active IIHF referees and linesmen. Only completed survey responses were included in the statistical analysis. Continuous variables were analyzed using unpaired t-tests, while categorical data were assessed utilizing chi-square tests.

RESULTS: Of the 600 surveys administered, 264 surveys were completed by officials from 45 countries (44% response rate). Of the respondents, 72% were male, and 28% were female, with a mean age of 31.1 ± 5.8 years. Officiating experience averaged 11.4 ± 6.0 years (6.3 ± 4.5 years with the IIHF). A total of 295 injuries were reported by 55% of the officials. Injuries occurred more frequently during games compared with training, and officials who worked year-round had more total injuries than those who took time off (P = .03). The most common injuries involved the wrist and hand (n = 64 [22%]), head and face (n = 58 [20%]), and the knee (n = 47 [16%]). Wrist and hand trauma included 23 fractures. Knee and shoulder injuries were most likely to require surgery compared with other body areas (P < .001); 30 officials underwent surgery because of an acute knee injury (10%). Injury prevention activities were effective at reducing injuries (P = .04).

CONCLUSION: Most ice hockey officials experienced musculoskeletal injuries during their career. The risk of trauma to the wrist and hand can possibly be reduced via equipment modifications including protective gloves. A greater emphasis should be placed on injury prevention programs and time away from officiating competitions.

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