Context: Surveillance data regarding injuries caused by ball contact in collegiate athletes have not been well examined and are mostly limited to discussions of concussions and catastrophic injuries.
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of ball-contact injuries in 11 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports during the 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 academic years.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting: Convenience sample of NCAA programs in 11 sports (men's football, women's field hockey, women's volleyball, men's baseball, women's softball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's and women's soccer) during the 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 academic years.
Patients or other participants: Collegiate student-athletes participating in 11 sports.
Main outcome measure(s): Ball-contact-injury rates, proportions, rate ratios, and proportion ratios with 95% confidence intervals were based on data from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program during the 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 academic years.
Results: During the 2009-2010 through 2014-2015 academic years, 1123 ball-contact injuries were reported, for an overall rate of 3.54/10 000 AEs. The sports with the highest rates were women's softball (8.82/10 000 AEs), women's field hockey (7.71/10 000 AEs), and men's baseball (7.20/10 000 AEs). Most ball-contact injuries were to the hand/wrist (32.7%) and head/face (27.0%) and were diagnosed as contusions (30.5%), sprains (23.1%), and concussions (16.1%). Among sex-comparable sports (ie, baseball/softball, basketball, and soccer), women had a larger proportion of ball-contact injuries diagnosed as concussions than men (injury proportion ratio = 2.33; 95% confidence interval = 1.63, 3.33). More than half (51.0%) of ball-contact injuries were non-time loss (ie, participation-restriction time <24 hours), and 6.6% were severe (ie, participation-restriction time ≥21 days). The most common severe ball-contact injuries were concussions (n = 18) and finger fractures (n = 10).
Conclusion: Ball-contact-injury rates were the highest in women's softball, women's field hockey, and men's baseball. Although more than half were non-time-loss injuries, severe injuries such as concussions and fractures were reported.
Keywords: hand injuries; head injuries; injury prevention; injury rates; protective equipment.