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