Media Releases

Decoding concussions this playoff season: U of T experts release key findings

May 7, 2013

TORONTO, ON – While the health of NHL play­ers is a year-long pri­or­i­ty, dur­ing the play­off sea­son the con­se­quences of con­cus­sions and penal­ties are even more intense. When the play­ers hit the ice over the com­ing weeks, there are some sce­nar­ios fans and offi­cials can to watch for which—according to find­ings from U of T expert, Dr. Michael Hutchison—could ele­vate the odds of a con­cus­sion occur­ring.

Hutchison’s PhD research involved ana­lyz­ing three-and-a-half years of NHL game footage, look­ing for con­sis­ten­cies in inci­dents of con­cus­sion. The first of three arti­cles has been pub­lished in The British Jour­nal of Sport Med­i­cine. Some of the key find­ings were:

  • The major­i­ty of con­cus­sions occurred in the first peri­od
  • The con­cus­sion-induc­ing hit most often struck the side of the head
  • No penal­ty was called after these blind-side, con­cus­sion-induc­ing hits occurred
  • Hit­ters were sig­nif­i­cant­ly taller and heav­ier than con­cussed play­ers
  • Defense­men account­ed for 32 per cent of con­cus­sions, but the major­i­ty of these injuries occurred when play­ers were retriev­ing the puck or dur­ing “break­outs”
  • Con­cussed play­ers were often not in pos­ses­sion of the puck
  • Con­cus­sions occurred most often when the head was struck by the shoul­der, elbow or glove

As Hutchi­son was gath­er­ing data, the NHL used these emerg­ing find­ings to devel­op rule 48, which was cre­at­ed in 2010, ban­ning blind­side hits to the head. “So far, the league has respond­ed to this research in a very inno­v­a­tive and pro­gres­sive way,” says Hutchi­son. “Hope­ful­ly, as data like these con­tin­ue to emerge every­one from the fans, to the play­ers, to the own­ers will gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing how to decrease the inci­dence of con­cus­sions on the ice.”


For more infom­ra­tion, con­tact:

Valerie Ian­covich
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Spe­cial­ist
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy & Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion

Michael Hutchi­son, PhD
Direc­tor, Con­cus­sion Pro­gram
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy & Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion

Paul Com­per, PhD. CPsych.
Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor
Toron­to Rehab — UHN
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy and Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion & Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine
416.597.3422 ext. 3962