August 2021

Study Reports Injury Rates Across High School and College Sports

In an analysis of more than 26,000 injuries across high school and college sports, the sports with the most injuries were male football (25.6%), female basketball (8.5%), female soccer (8.1%), male basketball (7.1%), and female volleyball (6.5%). However, even though gymnastics and lacrosse accounted for fewer injuries, those injuries were typically associated with a greater number of visits and a longer duration of care. The abstract for this research was presented at the 2021 NATA Virtual Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, which was held virtually in June this year due to COVID-19.

“Although injury incidence and risk are primary factors in assessing medical staffing needs, other clinical practice components, such as treatment characteristics, may further inform these important patient care decisions,” said research lead author and professor of clinical research at A.T. Still University, Kenneth C. Lam, ScD, ATC. “For example, sports associated with fewer injuries but higher amount and duration of care, such as in gymnastics or lacrosse, may result in similar or even higher demand on the clinician than sports with more injuries but lower amount and duration of care. Our findings suggest that sport-specific treatment patterns should be considered when determining appropriate medical staffing needs.”

The research presented injury and treatment characteristics of sport-specific injuries reported within the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network (AT-PBRN) from 2013 to 2020. A total of 26,162 sport-related injuries and 162,025 services were recorded and evaluated. The patient records were created by 368 athletic trainers practicing in 317 athletic training clinics (252 high schools, 40 colleges, 25 other) across 34 states. The data show:

  • Across all injuries, patients received a median of 5 visits, however, male gymnastics received 19 visits, female gymnastics received 7 visits and male lacrosse received 7 visits.
  • Median male gymnastics duration of care was 66 days, female gymnastics was 16 days and male lacrosse is 16 days.
  • The top 5 diagnoses documented were concussion (12.2%), ankle sprain/strain (10.8%), hip and groin sprain/strain (7.4%), distal thigh sprain/strain (3.6%), and knee pain (3.2%)

Source: Lam KC, Marshall AN, Valovich McLeod TC, et al. Injury and Treatment Characteristics of Sport-Specifi c Injuries From 2013-2020: A Report From the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network. J Athlet Train. 2021;56(6):S-151.

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