Catastrophic injuries and fatalities in high school and college sports, fall 1982-spring 1988

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Dec;22(6):737-41. doi: 10.1249/00005768-199012000-00001.


Direct and indirect deaths and catastrophic injuries, defined as any injury incurred during participation in a high school/college sponsored sport in which there is permanent severe functional neurological disability (nonfatal) or transient but not permanent functional neurologic disability (serious), are presented for all sports during the period of fall 1982 to spring 1988. Football contributed the greatest numbers of catastrophic injuries but also had the largest number of participants. Ice hockey, gymnastics, and wrestling are the other sports where participants are at greatest risk of catastrophic injury or death. Mechanisms of injury in each sport and corrective actions are identified and discussed. While high school and college catastrophic injuries may never be totally eliminated, they can be dramatically reduced by reliable injury data collection and analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / mortality
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Universities