Study objective: To examine the number and rates of head injuries occurring in the community as a whole for the team sports of ice hockey, soccer, and football by analyzing data from patients presenting to US emergency departments (EDs) from 1990 to 1999.
Design: Retrospective analysis.
Main outcome measures: Data compiled for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were used to generate estimates for the total number of head injuries, concussions, internal head injuries, and skull fractures occurring on a national level from the years 1990 to 1999. These data were combined with yearly participation figures to generate rates of injuries presenting to the ED for each sport.
Results: There were an estimated 17,008 head injuries from ice hockey, 86,697 from soccer, and 204,802 from football that presented to US EDs from 1990 to 1999. The total number of concussions presenting to EDs in the United States over the same period was estimated to be 4820 from ice hockey, 21,715 from soccer, and 68,861 from football. While the rates of head injuries, concussions, and combined concussions/internal head injuries/skull fractures presenting to EDs per 10,000 players were not always statistically similar for all 3 sports in each year data were available, they were usually comparable.
Conclusion: While the total numbers of head injuries, concussions, and combined concussions/skull fractures/internal head injuries presenting to EDs in the United States are different for ice hockey, soccer, and football for the years studied, the yearly rates for these injuries are comparable among all 3 sports.