Sports

A little bit of foam could make hockey a lot safer

A little bit of foam could mak...
The scientists had a group of hockey players deliver shoulder checks to the head of a sensor-equipped mannequin
The scientists had a group of hockey players deliver shoulder checks to the head of a sensor-equipped mannequin
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The scientists had a group of hockey players deliver shoulder checks to the head of a sensor-equipped mannequin
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The scientists had a group of hockey players deliver shoulder checks to the head of a sensor-equipped mannequin

The most common cause of concussions in hockey isn't the hitting of heads on ice … it's shoulder-to-head impacts, as in one player's shoulder impacting another one's head. According to research being conducted at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University (SFU), however, the severity of those impacts could be greatly reduced with the simple addition of a layer of foam.

While shoulder pads are already a key piece of hockey equipment, they're designed to protect the person wearing them – not the person being hit by them. Although they may have foam underneath, they're topped with a hard plastic cap.

With that in mind, SFU researchers had 15 collegiate-level hockey players deliver "comfortably hard" shoulder checks to the head of a mannequin equipped with accelerometers and gyroscopes – they did so using regular shoulder pads, and also using pads with a 2-cm (0.8-inch) layer of polyurethane foam attached over the cap.

It was found that use of the foam "resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the peak linear acceleration of the head, and a 12 percent reduction in peak rotational velocity."

The research was led by Prof. Steve Robinovitch, and is described in a paper recently published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.

Source: Simon Fraser University

2 comments
Martin Hone
Hello ? Are these researches really rocket scientists or have they been living under a rock for the past 45 years ?
ljaques
Um, are you sure most of the impacts aren't hockey sticks and elbows? Hockey ain't no friendly game, sirs and madams. OTOH, if shoulder pads reduce injuries, make 'em mandatory immediately.