Background: There is a relative paucity of research examining the sport-specific injury epidemiology of high school and collegiate volleyball athletes. Moreover, differences in study methodology frequently limit our ability to compare and contrast injury data collected from selected populations.
Hypothesis: There are differences between the injury patterns characteristic of high school and collegiate female volleyball athletes.
Study design: Retrospective clinical review.
Level of evidence: Level 3.
Methods: We statistically analyzed injury incidence and outcome data collected over a 4-year interval (2005-2006 to 2008-2009) by 2 similar injury surveillance systems, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Injury Surveillance System (NCAA ISS) and the High School Reporting Injuries Online (HS RIO). We compared diagnoses, anatomic distribution of injuries, mechanisms of injury, and time lost from training or competition between high school and collegiate volleyball athletes.
Results: The overall volleyball-related injury rate was significantly greater among collegiate athletes than among high school athletes during both competition (injury rate ratio, 2.9; 95% CI, 2.5-3.4) and practice (injury rate ratio, 3.5; 95% CI, 3.1-3.9). Collegiate athletes had a higher rate of ankle sprain, knee injury, and shoulder injury. Concussions represented a relatively high percentage of injuries in both populations (5.0% of total NCAA ISS injuries vs 4.8% of total HS RIO injuries, respectively).
Conclusion: The data suggest that although similar, there were distinct differences between the injury patterns of the 2 populations. Compared with high school volleyball players, collegiate athletes have a higher rate of acute time loss injury as well as overuse time loss injury (particularly patellar tendinosis). Concussions represented a significant and worrisome component of the injury pattern for both study populations.
Clinical relevance: The injury data suggest that important differences exist in the injury patterns of female high school compared with collegiate volleyball athletes. Consideration of the specific injury patterns may be helpful in future prevention efforts.
Keywords: collegiate athletes; high school athletes; injury patterns; injury surveillance; volleyball.
© 2015 The Author(s).