Head, Face, and Eye Injuries in Collegiate Women's Field Hockey

Am J Sports Med. 2015 Aug;43(8):2027-34. doi: 10.1177/0363546515588175. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


Background: While there is concern regarding head, face, and eye injuries in field hockey, prompting some to recommend the use of protective equipment such as goggles and helmets, little has been written about their incidence and mechanism of injury in the modern game of field hockey. The elucidation of this information will better inform the development of maximally effective injury prevention schemes to protect the athlete while maintaining the integrity of the game.

Purpose: To determine the incidence and epidemiology of head, face, and eye injuries in United States collegiate women's field hockey players from 2004-2005 to 2008-2009.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiological study.

Methods: All head, face, and eye injuries reported to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System for collegiate women's field hockey athletes from the 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 seasons were analyzed. Data regarding the event type, injury mechanism, body part injured, type of injury, outcome, and time lost were reviewed. The weighted injury incidence per 1000 athlete-exposures (AEs) was calculated using the exposure data set for the same years; 95% CIs were calculated based on a normal approximation to the Poisson distribution.

Results: There were 150 reported traumatic injuries during this time period, with a weighted occurrence of 1587.3 injuries. The overall incidence of head, face, and eye injuries in collegiate women's field hockey was 0.94 per 1000 AEs (95% CI, 0.86-1.19). Injuries to the head or face, other than the mouth, nose, and eye, accounted for 75.3% of these injuries. The incidence of eye injuries was 0.07 per 1000 AEs (95% CI, 0.03-0.12); nose injuries occurred at a rate of 0.10 per 1000 AEs (95% CI, 0.05-0.15). The rate of traumatic dental injuries was 0.06 per 1000 AEs (95% CI, 0.04-0.14). Contact with an apparatus caused 72.9% of all injuries; specifically, contact with an elevated ball accounted for 47.9% of all injuries, and contact with an elevated stick caused 21.7% of all injuries. While the majority of players suffering a head, face, or eye injury were able to return to sport that season (90.0%), the remaining athletes suffered season-ending injuries (10%). Concussions accounted for 42.8% of all head, face, and eye injuries reported (0.40 per 1000 AEs; 95% CI, 0.32-0.53).

Conclusion: Head, face, and eye injuries occur regularly in women's field hockey. This description of the injury profile and mechanisms of injury may be used to design appropriate injury prevention schemes for the sport.

Keywords: collegiate; head, eye, and face injuries; women’s field hockey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Eye Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Eye Injuries / prevention & control
  • Eye Protective Devices
  • Facial Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Students
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities