Epidemiologic comparisons of soccer-related injuries presenting to emergency departments and reported within high school and collegiate settings

Inj Epidemiol. 2017 Dec;4(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s40621-017-0116-9. Epub 2017 Jul 3.


Background: Few studies compare sports injury patterns in different settings. This study described the epidemiology of soccer injuries presenting to emergency departments (EDs) and compared injuries presenting to EDs to injuries presenting to collegiate and high school athletic trainers (ATs).

Methods: Soccer-related injuries (product code 1267) in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) that were sustained by individuals at least two years of age in 2004-2013 were included. High School Reporting Information Online (HS RIO) data for high school soccer injuries during the 2005/06-2013/14 academic years were compared to NEISS data for those aged 14-17 years in 2005-2013. National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance Program (NCAA-ISP) data for collegiate soccer injuries during the 2009/10-2013/14 academic years were compared to NEISS data for those aged 18-22 years in 2009-2013. All datasets included weights to calculate national estimates. Injury proportion ratios (IPRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) compared nationally estimated injury distributions between the HS RIO/NCAA-ISP and NEISS data subsets.

Results: During the study period, 63,258 soccer-related injuries were captured by NEISS, which translates to an estimated 2,039,250 injuries seen at US EDs nationwide. Commonly injured body parts included the head/face (19.1%), ankle (17.6%), hand/wrist (15.3%), and knee (12.2%). Common diagnoses included sprains/strains (34.0%), fractures (22.2%), and contusions (17.7%). Compared to their respective age ranges in NEISS, sprains/strains comprised a larger proportion of injuries in HS RIO (48.3% vs. 33.7%; IPR = 1.38; 95% CI: 1.33, 1.42) and NCAA-ISP (51.3% vs. 37.0%; IPR = 1.39; 95% CI: 1.31, 1.46). In contrast, fractures comprised a smaller proportion of injuries in HS RIO than in NEISS (7.5% vs. 18.6%; IPR = 0.43; 95% CI: 0.39, 0.47) and NCAA-ISP (2.8% vs. 15.7%; IPR = 0.18; 95% CI: 0.14, 0.22).

Conclusions: ATs more commonly reported injuries that are easily diagnosed and treated (e.g., sprains/strains); EDs more commonly reported injuries with longer recovery times and rehabilitation (e.g., fractures). Although ED surveillance data can identify the most severe sports-related injuries, high school and college sports surveillance may better describe the breadth of sports-related injuries. Our findings may provide further support for school-based sports medicine professionals, but further research is needed to comprehensively examine the potential economic and health-related benefits.

Keywords: Athletic training; Epidemiology; Injury surveillance; Soccer.