The NHL season has started and millions of us are tuning in to see our favourite team do battle.
Hockey has long been recognized as our official winter sport but there’s more changing beneath the surface of this national obsession than meets the eye.
Serious injury is a constant threat, and research and development has played a big part in keeping players safe on the ice. Some of the innovation witnessed over the years is fascinating.
Injuries in hockey usually occur when a player crashes into the side or falls, and either scenario can result in a head injury. Full-face mask helmets have proven to be effective at protecting an athlete’s head and face, which can reduce the risk of concussion.
Further R&D has meant better materials, construction and design, as well as how they are tested. The hockey equipment manufacturers at CCM developed the Rotational Energy Dampening (RED) system, which incorporates liquid-filled bladders into the liner that help to reduce the rotational accelerations during impact. A partnership between CCM and D3O also developed helmets that included unique shock-absorbing material, which causes the molecules to lock together to dissipate impact energy. There’s also a feature called Microdial that allows 360-degree customisation so that the helmet fits perfectly on the player’s head. This adjustability can be really important, as it is now widely accepted that better fitting helmets reduce the risks of traumatic brain injury.
This technology isn’t just unique to headgear either. The same materials have been used in shoulder pads to minimise injury in the upper body. We now have neck guards that use material inserts to render them impact and slash-resistant.
However, injuries aren’t just prevented by improvements to the kit. Researchers have also been working on sensors that can be built into different pieces of equipment (even the mouthguard), to keep track of the impact of collisions and the speed players are going.
Manufacturers large and small are proving to be R&D pioneers in hockey but startups can fall at the final hurdle due to a lack of funds.
The next time you tune into a game, have a think about the advancements in technology running through every aspect of the drama unfolding in front of you. Canada has some of the most generous tax incentives to help companies overcome these financial challenges, including the CRA’s SR&ED program, and they might have played a bigger role in the match than you think.
For more information about the tax incentives that may be available to your business, and how SR&ED can be used to fund innovation in every sector (even hockey!), you can reach Catax Canada president, Richard Hoy, at Richard.Hoy@catax.com.