How Many Hockey Players Get Concussions A Year? [Expert Guide!]

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Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world, played by people from all over the globe. While some leagues and venues don’t allow for contact other than with the puck, the game itself is almost completely physically demanding, involving a lot of heading, kicking, and hitting. There are also a lot of open ice activities that can result in a concussion, making precautionary measures a key component of training.

The numbers behind hockey are pretty staggering. According to the NHL, over one million fans flock to their venues each week, while the number of players has steadily increased over the years. Due to the sport’s popularity, a lot of research has been conducted to determine the long-term effects of playing hockey—specifically, how many concussions do hockey players suffer from each year? Let’s take a quick look at the numbers and what they mean.

Concussions In The NHL

The first season that the question of concussions in hockey was examined was 1997-98, with the start of the NHL’s concussion awareness campaign. That season, there were 260 concussions among NHL players (based on a total of 3,980 player exposures). While that number might not sound all that high, keep in mind that this was before the concussion awareness campaign and there was no way of knowing how many concussions had gone unreported or unrecognized at the time. Compare this to the 2018-19 NHL season, which saw 605 concussions (based on a total of 17,391 player exposures)—up from 462 concussions the previous year. This is truly an epidemic in hockey. Unfortunately, these numbers are likely to keep rising as awareness about the dangers of concussions does, and more people learn how to identify the symptoms of a concussion.

How Many Years Of Concussion Symptoms Do Players Experience?

There is no easy answer to this question, as it really depends on the individual. Some hockey players suffer from concussions for years, while others may never show any symptoms at all. Some of the more prominent symptoms of a concussion are memory loss, headache, and visual problems. However, due to the lack of knowledge about concussions before the awareness campaign in the ’90s, it’s impossible to know how many years of these symptoms players would have experienced if the campaign didn’t exist.

The Rise In Concussions

Concussions in hockey have steadily increased each year since the start of 2017, with 2018-19 being the most violent season yet. This is largely due to a combination of factors—more people playing hockey, better technology allowing for more detailed tracking of hits to the head, and a shift towards players heading the puck instead of just shooting it. It also doesn’t help that the NHL has implemented a few rule changes this season that directly lead to more goals and more concussions. The combination of these factors has resulted in an overall increase of 24% in reported concussions from 11 games to 19 games this season.

It’s important to note that this is just a portion of the data. As we mentioned above, the number of concussions and player exposures has increased significantly in recent years. It’s also worth mentioning that while the awareness campaign in the ’90s started with the stated goal of making the game safer by educating players, coaches, and fans about the dangers of concussions, the data after the campaign’s inception shows that the number of reported incidents actually increased by 23% in the following five years.

The Overall Trend In Hockey

It’s clear that over the past two decades, the sport of hockey has seen an alarming increase in both the number of players and concussions. The good news is that while the number of reported injuries has increased, the rate at which they’re occurring has declined. This can largely be attributed to better training, as well as an increase in awareness about the dangers of concussions. The best way to keep your brain healthy is by playing a less physical sport—such as golf or tennis—or simply finding activities that don’t involve a lot of heading, blocking, and tackling. If you’re worried about concussions, then it’s also worth looking into protective equipment that can be worn during various activities.

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