Review| Volume 50, ISSUE 3, P233-238, April 2012

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A review of facial protective equipment use in sport and the impact on injury incidence

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5540.
    Timothy Farrington
    1 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5540.
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science/Institute for Performance Research, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Rd, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 5DU, United Kingdom
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  • Author Footnotes
    2 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5594.
    Gladys Onambele-Pearson
    2 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5594.
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science/Institute for Performance Research, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Rd, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 5DU, United Kingdom
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  • Author Footnotes
    3 Tel.: +44 0161 247 3345.
    Rebecca L. Taylor
    3 Tel.: +44 0161 247 3345.
    School of Healthcare Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5GD, United Kingdom
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  • Author Footnotes
    4 Tel.: +44 01905 733020.
    Philip Earl
    4 Tel.: +44 01905 733020.
    Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Charles Hastings Way, Worcester, Worcestershire WR5 1DD, United Kingdom
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  • Keith Winwood
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 0161 247 5540.
    Department of Exercise and Sport Science/Institute for Performance Research, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Rd, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 5DU, United Kingdom
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5540.
    2 Tel.: +44 0161 247 5594.
    3 Tel.: +44 0161 247 3345.
    4 Tel.: +44 01905 733020.
Published:February 04, 2011DOI:


      Sporting activities have an inherent risk of facial injury from traumatic impacts from fellow competitors, projectiles, and collisions with posts or the ground. This retrospective review systematically describes the interplay between the type of sport (including the level at which specific sports are played), the sex of the players and their musculoskeletal characteristics, the technology behind the materials used, the protective devices commonly used, the anatomical site, and the regularity of incidence of fractures. We describe how variations in sporting activities induce different orofacial fracture patterns, and critically consider the methods used to test protective headgear against more contemporary techniques. Facial injuries can have a profound psychological effect on those injured, can take a long time to heal, and have been known to end promising careers. Use of properly fitted protective head or facial equipment could reduce the number of facial fractures commonly seen in sports. We recommend that individual sports should have full risk assessments, and that mandatory standards should be agreed about protective devices that would be appropriate.


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