There has been a growing awareness about concussion injury in sport, particularly in the last decade. Ten years ago, it was estimated that upwards of “…300 000 sport-related concussions occur[ed] annually in the United States and account[ed] for 75% of all sport-related brain injuries” (Bloom et al., 2008, p.295). Given the more educated understanding of concussion injury and its symptoms, coupled with the significant increase in international sport participation, this number is significantly larger today. With a better understanding of the potential negative performance and health consequences of this type of injury, researchers are focusing their efforts on fast-paced sports involving high-speed collisions (Dick, 2009).
Ice hockey is a sport unlike any other. What separates hockey from all other contact sports, is that players travel at exceptionally high rates of speed making contact with not only other players, but hard surfaces and objects such as boards, ice, glass, and goal posts. In a setting where speed and rigid obstacles are combined, the likelihood of acceleration and deceleration forces interacting and resulting in injury, especially to the head, significantly increases. For this reason, it has been determined that ice hockey produces some of the highest rates of concussion in comparison with all other contact sports. Surprisingly though, despite the fact that concussion has been identified as a considerable medical problem in hockey, it has proven to often receive the least amount of medical attention (Goodman et al., 2001).
An increased awareness as to the gender-specific incidence and symptomology in elite level hockey players, is important as it can have a direct bearing on recommendations intended to protect participants from unnecessary injury. In addition, further information in this domain, will contribute to improved diagnostic techniques and tools, prevention methods and treatment options. Moreover, these gender-specific advancements will help reduce injuries and shape effective treatment strategies to ensure that injury rates of concussion and their subsequent effects do not increase any further (Agel & Harvey, 2010). SECTION B.
Part I: Problem Statement
This research study will address both the incidence and symptoms associated with sport-related concussions. More specifically, the gender differences associated with these types of injuries will be examined among elite level hockey players. An exhaustive list, including but not limited to, poor prevention methods, diagnostic techniques and outcome measures, have demonstrated a serious need for knowledge in this specific area of sport-related injury. A multi-method study design will be used to compare the gender-specific incidence of concussion, as well as the symptoms experienced by elite level hockey players. A prospective cohort study method has been chosen as it measures “the proportion of subjects who develop the disease [or characteristic] under study within a specified time period” (Meirik, 2008, p. 2). This method of design will involve reports of the injury from team personnel to the researchers, along with written confirmation of the diagnosis from a physician. The interview method will be coupled with the prospective cohort study method and used in follow up meetings with those having suffered a concussion. The data collected from this qualitative design, will help researchers to better understand the symptoms experienced by the injured athletes. (See SECTION E: Part II, for a detailed description of the study methods and design). The general population will include both male and female elite level hockey players from the greater Toronto area having suffered a concussion injury while playing a game of ice hockey. For the purpose of this study, elite level hockey players will include those that currently play in one of the following hockey leagues:...
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