Fractures in the collegiate athlete

Am J Sports Med. 2004 Mar;32(2):446-51. doi: 10.1177/0363546503261708.


Purpose: To determine the demographics and incidence of fractures in collegiate athletes.

Study design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data.

Methods: Division I collegiate athletes who sustained a fracture while enrolled at the university from 1986 to 2000 were identified through training room records. Type and location of fracture, sport, gender, age, position, height, and weight were recorded and analyzed. Team information was obtained from athletic department records and was used to calculate incidence.

Results: Between 1986 and 2000, 5900 Division I athletes at our institution sustained 349 primary fractures (5.9%). By gender, the incidence did not differ significantly between males and females (P =.236), except in water polo where the men sustained significantly more fractures. By type, females sustained significantly more stress fractures (P =.001) than males. Overall, by location, the hand contributed the greatest number of total fractures. By sport, the incidence rate was highest in basketball (0.081) for male athletes and in gymnastics (0.069) for female athletes. The incidence of a second fracture during the study period was twice the rate of the first fracture.

Conclusions: As expected, athletes participating in contact sports contributed the greatest number of fractures. Participation in basketball for men and in gymnastics for women posed the greatest risk. Female athletes sustained significantly more stress fractures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Basketball / injuries
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Gymnastics / injuries
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Universities