Context: Recent injury-surveillance data for collegiate-level women's gymnastics are limited. In addition, researchers have not captured non-time-loss injuries (ie, injuries resulting in restriction of participation <1 day).
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women's gymnastics injuries during the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting: Aggregate injury and exposure data collected from 11 women's gymnastics programs providing 28 seasons of data.
Patients or other participants: Collegiate student-athletes participating in women's gymnastics during the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Intervention(s): Women's gymnastics data from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (ISP) during the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 academic years were analyzed.
Main outcome measure(s): Injury rates; injury rate ratios; injury proportions by body site, diagnosis, and apparatus; and injury proportion ratios were reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: The ISP captured 418 women's gymnastics injuries, a rate of 9.22/1000 athlete-exposures (AEs; 95% CI = 8.33, 10.10). The competition injury rate (14.49/1000 AEs) was 1.67 times the practice injury rate (8.69/1000 AEs; 95% CI = 1.27, 2.19). When considering time-loss injuries only, the injury rate during this study period (3.62/1000 AEs) was lower than rates reported in earlier NCAA ISP surveillance data. Commonly injured body sites were the ankle (17.9%, n = 75), lower leg/Achilles tendon (13.6%, n = 57), trunk (13.4%, n = 56), and foot (12.4%, n = 52). Common diagnoses were ligament sprain (20.3%, n = 85) and muscle/tendon strain (18.7%, n = 78). Overall, 12.4% (n = 52) of injuries resulted in time loss of more than 3 weeks. Of the 291 injuries reported while a student-athlete used an apparatus (69.6%), most occurred during the floor exercise (41.9%, n = 122) and on the uneven bars (28.2%, n = 82).
Conclusions: We observed a lower time-loss injury rate for women's gymnastics than shown in earlier NCAA ISP surveillance data. Safety initiatives in women's gymnastics, such as "sting mats," padded equipment, and a redesigned vault table, may have contributed to minimizing the frequency and severity of injury.
Keywords: incidence; injury surveillance; sports.