Background: United States high school soccer participation increased 5 fold over the last 30 years. With increased participation comes increased injury incidence.
Hypothesis: High school soccer injury patterns will vary by gender and type of exposure.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiologic study.
Methods: Soccer-related injury data were collected over the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years from 100 nationally representative United States high schools via Reporting Information Online (RIO, an Internet-based sports-related injury surveillance system).
Results: Participating certified athletic trainers reported 1524 soccer injuries during 637 446 athlete exposures (AEs), for an injury rate of 2.39 per 1000 AEs, corresponding to a nationally estimated 807 492 soccer-related injuries during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. The injury rate per 1000 AEs was greater during competition (4.77) than practice (1.37) (rate ratio [RR] = 3.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.15-3.87). Overall, the most frequent diagnoses were incomplete ligament sprains (26.8%), incomplete muscle strains (17.9%), contusions (13.8%), and concussions (10.8%). The most commonly injured body sites were the ankle (23.4%), knee (18.7%), head/face (13.7%), and thigh/upper leg (13.1%). Similar proportions of boys (57.9%) and girls (53.9%) returned to activity in <1 week. During competition, girls sustained complete knee ligament sprains requiring surgery at a rate of 26.4 per 100 000 AEs, higher than the rate among boys during competition (1.98 per 100 000 AEs) (RR = 13.3; 95% CI, 3.15-56.35) and among girls during practice (2.34 per 100 000 AEs) (RR = 11.3; 95% CI, 4.31-29.58). Player-to-player contact was more common among competition injuries (injury proportion ratio [IPR] = 2.42; 95% CI, 2.01-2.92), while noncontact mechanisms were more common among practice injuries (IPR = 2.39; 95% CI, 1.90-3.01).
Conclusions: High school soccer injury patterns vary by gender and type of exposure. Identifying such differences in injury patterns is the important first step in the development of evidence-based, targeted injury prevention efforts.