JOURNAL ARTICLE

A multisport epidemiologic comparison of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in high school athletics

Allan M Joseph, Christy L Collins, Natalie M Henke, Ellen E Yard, Sarah K Fields, R Dawn Comstock
Journal of Athletic Training 2013, 48 (6): 810-7
24143905

BACKGROUND: The knee joint is the second most commonly injured body site after the ankle and the leading cause of sport-related surgeries. Knee injuries, especially of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), are among the most economically costly sport injuries, frequently requiring expensive surgery and rehabilitation.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the epidemiology of ACL injuries among high school athletes by sport and sex.

DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Using an Internet-based data-collection tool, Reporting Information Online (RIO), certified athletic trainers from 100 nationally representative US high schools reported athlete-exposure and injury data for athletes from 9 sports during the 2007/08-2011/12 academic years. The outcome of interest in this study was ACL injuries.

RESULTS: During the study period, 617 ACL injuries were reported during 9 452 180 athlete exposures (AEs), for an injury rate of 6.5 per 100 000 AEs. Nationally, in the 9 sports studied, an estimated 215 628 ACL injuries occurred during the study period. The injury rate was higher in competition (17.6) than practice (2.4; rate ratio [RR] = 7.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.08, 8.68). Girls' soccer had the highest injury rate (12.2) followed by boys' football (11.1), with boys' basketball (2.3) and boys' baseball (0.7) having the lowest rates. In sex-comparable sports, girls had a higher rate (8.9) than boys (2.6; RR = 3.4, 95% CI = 2.64, 4.47). Overall, 76.6% of ACL injuries resulted in surgery. The most common mechanisms of injury were player-to-player contact (42.8%) and no contact (37.9%).

CONCLUSIONS: Anterior cruciate ligament injury rates vary by sport, sex, and type of exposure. Recognizing such differences is important when evaluating the effectiveness of evidence-based, targeted prevention efforts.

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