Injuries sustained by rugby players presenting to United States emergency departments, 1978 through 2004

J Athl Train. Jul-Sep 2006;41(3):325-31.

Abstract

Context: Although the United States has nearly 60 000 rugby players, to date no nationally representative rugby injury studies have been conducted.

Objective: To describe rugby players with injuries presenting to a representative sample of US emergency departments from 1978 through 2004.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: US Consumer Products Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Patients or other participants: Rugby players presenting to emergency departments in participating hospitals from October 1, 1978, through December 31, 2004.

Main outcome measure(s): We reviewed all rugby players with injuries captured by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and categorized them by sex, age, injury site, and injury diagnosis.

Results: An estimated 236 539 rugby players presented to US emergency departments from 1978 through 2004. Injured athletes tended to be male (87.2%) and older than 18 years of age (86.0%). The face (20.5%), shoulder (14.1%), head (11.5%), and ankle (9.1%) were the most frequently injured sites. Strain/sprain (24.3%), laceration (22.1%), fracture (18.7%), and contusion/abrasion (16.6%) were the most common diagnoses. Males presented with more face injuries (injury proportion ratio [IPR] = 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.54-2.72, P < .001) and more lacerations (IPR = 4.23, 95% CI = 2.87-6.22, P < .001) and dislocations (IPR = 2.17, 95% CI 1.51-3.13, P < .001). Females presented with more knee injuries (IPR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.36-2.06, P < .001) and more contusions/abrasions (IPR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.14-1.92, P < .001) and strains/sprains (IPR = 1.39, 95% = CI 1.16-1.67, P < .001). Those 18 years of age or younger presented with more concussions (IPR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.06-2.50, P < .001), while those over 18 presented with more lacerations (IPR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.30-2.57, P < .001). In males, fractures were more common among those 18 years of age or younger (IPR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.24-1.75, P < .001).

Conclusions: Rugby injury patterns in the United States differed by age and sex. Understanding such patterns should assist certified athletic trainers in developing targeted preventive interventions.