March 2013

Girls, football players face highest risk of knee injury in high school athletics

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Emily Delzell

The highest knee injury rates in US high school sports are associated with football, followed by girl’s soccer and gymnastics, according to an epidemiological study from The Ohio State University in Columbus and Colorado State University in Aurora.

The investigators collected sports-related injury data for 20 sports for the school years 2005/2006 to 2010/2011. During this period 5116 knee injuries occurred during 17,172,376 athlete exposures (AE), for an overall rate of 2.98 knee injuries per 10,000 AE.

Girls had significantly higher knee injury rates than boys in sex-comparable sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball/ softball, lacrosse, swimming and diving, and track and field). They also were significantly more likely than boys to sustain anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

The medial collateral ligament was the most commonly injured knee structure (36.1% of knee injuries), followed by the patella/patellar tendon (29.5%), anterior cruciate ligament (25.4%), meniscus (23.0%), lateral collateral ligament (7.9%), and posterior cruciate ligament (2.4%).

The investigators published their findings in the March issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.


Epidemiology of knee injuries among U.S. high school athletes, 2005/2006-2010/2011. Swenson DM, Collins CL, Best TM, et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013;45(3):462-469.

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