Researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Colorado School of Public Health determined that high school lacrosse players are most at risk of concussions and sprains and strains. The study found that high school players experienced 1,406 injuries over the 4 academic years from 2008 through 2012, with an overall injury rate was 20 per 10,000 lacrosse competitions and practices. More than 22% of the injuries were a concussion, which makes it the second most common injury diagnosis behind sprains and strains (38%).

In addition, the researchers also found that while the rules for girls’ lacrosse largely prohibits person-to-person contact, almost 25% of concussions in girls’ lacrosse were a result of that type of contact. Another 63% of concussions result from being struck by lacrosse sticks or balls. A news release from Nationwide Children’s Hospital notes that most high school girls’ lacrosse players are only required to use protective mouthguards and eyewear and not the helmets and padding used in boys’ lacrosse.

The study found the number and kinds of injuries varied between genders. Boys sustained 67% of the total injuries and had a higher overall injury rate than girls. About 36% of boys’ injuries were sprains and strains, while about 22% were concussions. Person-to-person contact caused 74% of concussions and 41% of boys’ lacrosse injuries overall. For females, close to 44% of injuries were sprains and strains with concussion making up another 23%.

The most common cause for injuries for girls were no contact and contact with playing equipment.

Dawn Comstock, PhD, a co-author of the study, says the findings of the study will contribute to evidence-based discussions of ways to prevent injury, including the current debate over whether girls’ lacrosse players should wear helmets as boys are required to do. Comstock says, “Further study will help those working to develop and implement effective injury prevention programs.”

Lara B. McKenzie, PhD, a co-author of the study, says, “Lacrosse is becoming more and more popular across the United States, and it’s a great way for high school students to be active. Still, we see injuries in the sport every day during the season. Our research shows that we need to do more and can do more to prevent those injuries.”

Source: Nationwide Children’s Hospital