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USA Hockey Statement on Neck Guards

By USA Hockey, 07/06/17, 8:00AM CDT

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USA Hockey is very concerned about neck lacerations and the potential catastrophic involvement of arteries, veins and nerves. To date, there is sparse data to describe the prevalence of such an occurrence, the severity, or whether or not a neck laceration protector (neck guard) reduces risk or severity.

Based on a survey of USA Hockey players, neck lacerations from a skate blade are rarely serious, but the potential for severe consequences due to nerve, artery or vein involvement remain a concern. In addition, current neck laceration protector designs do not eliminate the risk of a neck laceration.

USA Hockey recommends that players wear a neck laceration protector, choosing a design that cover as much of the neck area as possible. Further research & improved standards testing will determine the effectiveness of these devices.

USA Hockey continues to fund important research by leading medical professionals on this topic. The latest peer-reviewed research study was published in the March 2017 version of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Below is a short summary of findings in recent research.

  • 27% of players who sustain a neck laceration were wearing a “neck guard” at the time of the injury
  • Neck lacerations are potentially catastrophic, but most are superficial: 20 (61%) required bandaging only, 11 were sutured, and 2 were glued.
  • Currently available neck laceration protectors do not eliminate the risk of a neck laceration from a skate blade.
  • Damage to the neck guard is not an indicator of the cut resistance of a neck guard.
  • Neck laceration protectors with Spectra fibers are the most cut resistant. 
  • Some neck laceration protectors shrink after washing. Shrinkage results in decreased surface area that may expose more of a player’s neck & reduce the effectiveness of the protector.
  • Neck laceration protectors have a negative impact on cervical spine range of motion.

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