Canadian Ice Hockey Spinal Injury Registry

Parachute is continuing the biennial hockey spinal injury survey, originally conducted by ThinkFirst Canada. The Canadian Ice Hockey Spinal Injury Registry is a collection of data provided by all practitioners in Canada who may treat spinal injuries in hockey players. The purpose of this Registry is to document the incidence, and associated factors, of spinal injury in ice hockey. The geographical locations of the injury, level of injury, extent of neurological deficit, type of play (e.g., practice, organized, shinny), use of protective equipment and how the injury happened (e.g., pushing and checking from behind) are assessed. Currently, the data spans 1943 to 2009, and we are now completing data collection and analysis for additional years.

Since the first recorded case of a major spinal injury in ice hockey in 1943, the total number of these tragic spinal injuries recorded in our Centre has surpassed 400. Much effort has been made toward the prevention of spinal injuries in hockey. It is essential to maintain accurate statistics in order to determine whether these prevention efforts are effective. The last survey indicated that the annual total number of cases has declined, and that paralyzing injuries have also declined. Please see the last report entitled “Spinal Injuries in Canadian Ice Hockey: An Update to 2005” published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 2009; 19(6): 451-456.

The Registry provides a key resource and up-to-date information for researchers, specialists in neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and sports medicine as well as for those designing effective injury prevention initiatives. This information is highly beneficial as it monitors the injuries, which then determines the effectiveness of prevention efforts over time. This Registry and survey are made possible thanks to the support of the Rick Hansen Institute, Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund, Foster Hewitt Foundation and Hockey Canada.