Season-Ending Shoulder Injuries in the National Collegiate Athletic Association: Data From the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program, 2009-2010 Through 2013-2014

Am J Sports Med. 2018 Jul;46(8):1936-1942. doi: 10.1177/0363546518773062. Epub 2018 May 23.


Background: Examination of the incidence of shoulder season-ending injury (SEI) in the collegiate athlete population is limited.

Purpose: To determine the incidence of shoulder SEI in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and to investigate the risk factors for a shoulder injury ending an athlete's season.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: All shoulder injuries from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program database for the years 2009-2010 to 2013-2014 were extracted, and SEI status was noted. The incidences of SEI and non-SEI were calculated for athlete, activity, and injury characteristics and compared via univariable analysis and risk ratios to determine risk factors for an injury being season ending.

Results: Shoulder injuries were season ending in 4.3% of cases. The overall incidence of shoulder SEI was 0.31 per 10,000 athlete exposures (AEs), as opposed to 7.25 per 10,000 AEs for all shoulder injuries. Shoulder instability constituted 49.1% of SEI, with an incidence of 0.15 per 10,000 AEs, while fractures had the highest rate of being season ending (41.9%). Men's wrestling had the highest incidence of shoulder SEI (1.65 per 10,000 AEs), while men's soccer had the highest proportion of shoulder injuries that ended a season (14.6%). Overall, men had a 6.3-fold higher incidence of SEI than women and a 2.4-fold increased likelihood that an injury would be season ending.

Conclusion: Injury to the shoulder of an NCAA athlete, while somewhat infrequent, can have significant implications on time lost from play. Incidence of these injuries varies widely by sport and injury, with a number of associated risk factors. Athletes sustaining potentially season-ending shoulder injuries, with their coaches and medical providers, may benefit from these data to best manage expectations and outcomes.

Keywords: NCAA; athletic injuries; database; epidemiology; season-ending injury; shoulder injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Shoulder Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Soccer / injuries
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wrestling / injuries
  • Young Adult