Objective: To review 16 years of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) injury surveillance data for men's wrestling and identify potential areas for injury prevention initiatives.
Background: From 1988-1989 through 2003-2004, 17% of NCAA schools sponsoring varsity men's wrestling programs participated in annual Injury Surveillance System (ISS) data collection.
Main results: Patterns of injury were consistent with the person-to-person, combative contact between wrestlers. The musculoskeletal system and head were the most vulnerable areas during competitions; skin infections are a continuing concern in the practice environment. The incidence of injuries in practices exhibited no significant increase over time, a positive trend that may be consistent with the influence of the recent NCAA weight management rules.
Recommendations: Expansion of the present ISS to include indirect causes of injury, such as weight loss practices, would strengthen the analysis of data. Efforts by referees to be vigilant for potentially dangerous holds and by athletic trainers to improve wrestler and mat hygiene should be continued.