Lacrosse injuries among high school boys and girls in the United States: academic years 2008-2009 through 2011-2012

Am J Sports Med. 2014 Sep;42(9):2082-8. doi: 10.1177/0363546514539914. Epub 2014 Jul 22.


Background: Lacrosse is a fast growing youth sport in the United States. Although there have been published studies examining injuries associated with lacrosse, significantly less research has been conducted in high school lacrosse players than in older lacrosse players. The objective of this study was to compare high school lacrosse injury rates and patterns by type of athletic activity (ie, competition vs practice) and sex.

Hypothesis: Lacrosse injury rates and patterns differ by type of athletic activity and sex.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: Using the High School RIO (Reporting Information Online) database, lacrosse exposure and injury data were collected during 4 academic years, 2008-2012, from a large sample of high schools in the United States. Schools' certified athletic trainers submitted exposure and injury information weekly.

Results: During the study period, 1406 injuries occurred during 716,812 athlete exposures, for an injury rate of 1.96 per 1000 athlete exposures (AEs). Injury rates were higher in competition than in practice (3.61 vs 1.23 per 1000 AEs, respectively; rate ratio [RR], 2.94; 95% CI, 2.65-3.27). Boys had a higher injury rate than girls (2.26 vs 1.54 per 1000 AEs, respectively; RR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.32-1.64). The most common injury diagnoses among both boys and girls were sprains/strains (boys: 35.6%; girls: 43.9%) and concussions (boys: 21.9%; girls: 22.7%). The most commonly injured body sites in competition were the head/face (32.0%), lower leg/ankle/foot (17.8%), and knee (12.2%), while in practice, the most commonly injured body sites were the lower leg/ankle/foot (34.9%), head/face (16.4%), and knee (12.7%). Among boys, the most common mechanisms of injury were contact with another person (40.9%) and no contact (21.1%). Among girls, the most common mechanisms of injury were no contact (26.2%), contact with a playing apparatus (24.0%), and overuse/chronic (17.7%). Most injured athletes (71.8%) returned to activity in ≤21 days, but 6.9% of all injuries required surgery.

Conclusion: Lacrosse injury rates and patterns among high school athletes in the United States differ by type of athletic activity and sex. Future studies should continue to compare differences in injury rates and patterns in high school lacrosse, with particular emphasis placed on high-risk plays in competition and the prevention and management of concussions in both boys and girls.

Keywords: epidemiology; injury prevention; lacrosse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racquet Sports / injuries*
  • Racquet Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk
  • Schools
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology