Epidemiology of collegiate baseball injuries

Clin J Sport Med. 1998 Jan;8(1):10-3. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199801000-00003.


Objective: We sought to establish injury incidence, onset, location, type, and severity for a collegiate baseball team. The second objective was to compare the number of musculoskeletal problems for which baseball players sought treatment with those that resulted in time lost or modified participation.

Methods: This was a prospective, epidemiologic study. A complaint was defined as any evaluation by a player to the medical staff that required either evaluation or treatment. An injury was defined as any complaint that resulted in altered participation or time lost from practice or game participation. Participants were Division I collegiate baseball team with one athletic trainer and one academic sports medicine specialist. All members of the collegiate baseball team were studied over a 3-year period to determine the overall incidence of injury per 1,000 exposures (A-E) to practice or participation, injuries sustained over 3 years by collegiate baseball players.

Results: Overall there were 277 complaints and 52 injuries (19%). The A-E rate was 5.83. Forty-six percent of the injuries occurred in practice and 54% in games. Seventy-three percent of the injuries resulted in < 7 days lost from sport, and 25% resulted in > 21 days lost participation. The most common origin of injury was strains (23%), sprains (19%), and contusions (17%). Fifty-eight percent of the injuries were to the upper extremity, 15% to the trunk/back, and 27% to a lower extremity. Upper extremity injuries accounted for 75% of the total time lost from the sport. When divided by position, the shoulder injuries occurred in pitchers (69%), infielders (19%), and outfielders (12%). Rotator cuff tendinitis was the most frequent complaint, was the most frequent injury, and resulted in the most time lost from the sport.

Conclusions: Defining injury as time lost or as altered participation underestimates the frequency with which players seek evaluation and treatment. Injuries are divided widely across anatomic site, but upper extremity injuries cause the most time lost from the sport. Further study of the origin and prevention of upper extremity injuries in baseball is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology
  • Arm Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*