Ice hockey facial protectors are essential to prevent eye (and, in some cases, dental) injuries but must also not encumber vision and, in turn, playersapos; performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of three different facial protection conditions on temporal and kinematic parameters in a goal-directed pointing task: helmet (control), visor, and cage. Start and end target switches captured temporal estimates (reaction time (RT), movement time, (MT), and response time (RT+MT)), while a 13-light target array and 6-camera Vicon Mx system were used to collect upper-body kinematics data (head and thorax orientation, shoulder and elbow joint angles). Subjects recruited were 16 male and 12 female varsity ice hockey players (n=28). Results demonstrated that, although kinematics remained largely unaffected, throughout the target array RTMT increased significantly with the cage (23 ms) as well as delayed initiation of head rotation for both the visor (14 ms) and the cage (18 ms). These differences may well represent a functional disadvantage to a player's performance given the dynamic open environment where multiple players contest for puck possession. It must be stressed that facial protectors still provide an effective form of protection and thus should still be worn at all levels of play. In summary, further research is warranted to achieve both optimal performance and safety.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/pstapley/24/