Epidemiology of Injuries Sustained in Boys' High School Contact and Collision Sports, 2008-2009 Through 2012-2013

Orthop J Sports Med. 2020 Feb 25;8(2):2325967120903699. doi: 10.1177/2325967120903699. eCollection 2020 Feb.


Background: Injury epidemiology for boys' high school contact and collision sport has been described in several overlapping but fragmented studies. Comprehensive comparisons of injuries sustained in boys' soccer, wrestling, football, ice hockey, and lacrosse are lacking.

Purpose: To describe patterns of injury by severity, body site, and diagnosis among high school boys' contact and collision sports in the United States.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: Injury rates and rate ratios (RRs) were calculated for injuries sustained in boys' high school soccer, wrestling, football, ice hockey, and lacrosse through use of the High School RIO (Reporting Information Online) surveillance data from 2008-2009 through 2012-2013. Injury patterns were described by site, diagnosis, time loss, and severity. Severe injury was defined as an injury that resulted in 21 days or more of time loss from sport participation. Risk of sustaining a concussion was compared between sports.

Results: The risk of sustaining an injury was higher in competition compared with practice overall (RR, 4.01; 95% CI, 3.90-4.12); the same pattern was true for severe injuries (RR, 4.61; 95% CI, 4.34-4.90). Football players experienced the highest injury rate (3.87 per 1000 athlete-exposures [AEs]) and the highest severe injury rate (0.80 per 1000 AEs). Overall, the most commonly injured body site was the head/face (22.5%), and the most prevalent injury diagnosis was ligament sprain not requiring surgery (23.5%). The most frequently injured body site from severe injury was the knee (24.6%), and fracture or avulsion was the most prevalent severe injury diagnosis (37.0%). Football players had a significantly higher risk of sustaining a concussion compared with other contact or collision sport athletes (P < .05).

Conclusion: Injuries rates were higher in competition than those in practice for boys' high school contact and collision athletes. Football players sustained the highest injury rate, the highest severe injury rate, and the highest concussion rate among the sports included in this analysis. Understanding these patterns of injury can generate policy and rule changes to make sports safer and maintain high levels of participation.

Keywords: epidemiology; football; high school; ice hockey; injury; lacrosse; soccer; sports; wrestling.