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.