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  • 'High Rate of Concussions' Found in High School Lacrosse

    Lacrosse has been cited as the fastest-growing high school sport—and it's precisely that popularity that demands a closer look at injury patterns, according to a new study of student athletes that found significant rates of injury among both boys and girls.

    In what authors claim is the first study to use a large national sample of high school lacrosse players, researchers identified competition injury rates of 3.61 per 1,000 athlete exposures (AE) for boys, and 2.26 for girls. Of injuries sustained in both competition and practice, 35.6% of boys suffered strains and sprains, and 21.9% experienced concussions. For girls, the strain/sprain rate was 43.9%, with a concussion rate of 22.7%. The data was gathered from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System from 2008 to 2012, and reported in an article appearing online in the July 22 edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (abstract only available for free).

    Among other findings in the study:

    • Of 1,406 injuries, 56.8% occurred during competition, with 67.1% sustained by boys.
    • Concussion rates were markedly higher in competition than in practice, with an injury rate of 1.04 per 1,000 AEs in games, compared with a practice rate of .17.
    • Nearly 72% of all athletes returned to activity in less than 3 weeks, with 14.4% returning to play within 1 to 2 days.
    • A total of 8.3% of injuries resulted in disqualification for the season, with strains/sprains accounting for 51.5% of those disqualifications, and concussions making up 19.7%.
    • Surgery was required for 6.9% of all injured players, with 43.3% of those surgeries addressing knee injuries.

    Authors pointed to the girls' concussion rate as possible evidence for use of helmets similar to the ones used by boys (contact rules differ among girls' and boys' lacrosse, as do protective equipment requirements), but acknowledged that "there currently is debate on the potential effectiveness of helmets for preventing concussion injuries."

    The differences in types and settings for injuries merit further research, according to the study, if for no other reason than to stay ahead of a fast-growing sport. "Given the rapidly increasing number of high school lacrosse players and the high rate of concussions among both boys and girls," authors write, "there is a great need to identify injury patterns and to investigate the causes of concussions to drive the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based, targeted preventive interventions."

     Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

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