JOURNAL ARTICLE

Comparing the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injury in collegiate lacrosse, soccer, and basketball players: implications for anterior cruciate ligament mechanism and prevention

Leanne C S Mihata, Anthony I Beutler, Barry P Boden
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2006, 34 (6): 899-904
16567461

BACKGROUND: Female college basketball and soccer athletes have higher rates of anterior cruciate ligament injury than do their male counterparts. Rates of anterior cruciate ligament injuries for women and men in collegiate lacrosse have not been examined. Understanding anterior cruciate ligament injury patterns in lacrosse, a full-contact sport for men and noncontact sport for women, could further injury prevention efforts.

HYPOTHESES: Female anterior cruciate ligament injury rates will decrease over time owing to longer participation in sports. Lacrosse anterior cruciate ligament injury rates will be lower than rates in basketball and soccer possibly owing to beneficial biomechanics of carrying a lacrosse stick.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study (Prevalence); Level of evidence, 2.

METHODS: Data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System were analyzed to compare men's and women's anterior cruciate ligament injuries in basketball, lacrosse, and soccer over 15 years.

RESULTS: Anterior cruciate ligament injury rates in women's basketball and soccer were 0.28 and 0.32 injuries per 1000 athlete exposures, respectively, and did not decline over the study period. In men's basketball, injury rate fluctuated between 0.03 and 0.13 athlete exposures. Rates of anterior cruciate ligament injury did not significantly change in men's soccer over the study period. The rate of anterior cruciate ligament injury in men's lacrosse (0.17 athlete exposures, P < .05) was significantly higher than in men's basketball (0.08 athlete exposures) and soccer (0.12 athlete exposures). Injury rate in women's lacrosse (0.18 athlete exposures, P < .05) was significantly lower than in women's basketball and soccer.

CONCLUSION: There was no discernable change in rate of anterior cruciate ligament injury in men or women during the study period. Men's lacrosse is a high-risk sport for anterior cruciate ligament injury. Unlike basketball and soccer, the rates of anterior cruciate ligament injury are essentially the same in men's and women's lacrosse. The level of allowed contact in pivoting sports may be a factor in determining sport-specific anterior cruciate ligament risk.

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