Spinal cord trauma due to head-first collisions is not uncommon in vehicle accidents, shallow water diving, football, or ice hockey. Two approaches to evaluating potential protective devices for ice hockey are described: an evaluative tool based upon an anthropometric test dummy, and a computer simulation of axial head-first collisions. Helmets reduced the peak cervical spine loads during low velocity head-first collisions by up to 8%. It is shown that large thicknesses of appropriate padding are necessary to hold the cervical spine loads to noninjurious levels. A head-first impact of 3.0 m • sec−1 required padding deformations on the order of 94 mm to hold cervical spine loads below 2,000 N.
This research was supported by funds from Sport Canada and Hockey Ontario.
Richard P. Wells, Patrick J. Bishop, and Malcolm Stephens are with the Biomechanics Impact Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Ont, Canada N2L 3G1.