Injuries associated with combat sports, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2013

MSMR. 2014 May;21(5):16-8.


The practice of combat sports creates a potential for training- and sports-related injuries among military members. During the 4-year surveillance period, there were 12,108 cases of injuries associated with combat sports among active component service members; the overall incidence rate was 21.0 per 10,000 person-years (p-yrs). The rates were higher among service members who were male, Hispanic, in the youngest age groups, in the Army, junior enlisted, and in combat-specific occupations. The rate among recruit/ trainees (779.4 per 10,000 p-yrs) was more than 165 times the rate among all other active component service members (non-recruits) (4.7 per 10,000 p-yrs). Sprains, strains, and contusions accounted for more than one-half of the primary (first-listed) diagnoses associated with combat sports cases. More serious conditions such as concussions/head injuries and skull/face fractures/intracranial injuries were reported among 3.9% and 2.1% of all cases and were more common among boxing-related cases. Hand/wrist fractures were also common among boxing cases. Wrestling had comparatively greater proportions of dislocations and open wounds. Although the combat sport training provides many physical and mental benefits to the individual, safety practices should be enforced to reduce the most frequent and serious injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Boxing / injuries
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Carpal Bones / injuries*
  • Contusions / epidemiology
  • Facial Bones / injuries*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sex Factors
  • Shoulder Dislocation / epidemiology
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wrestling / injuries
  • Young Adult