Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Injury Rates Between Female Collegiate and High School Volleyball Differ (Sports Med Res)


Friday, November 20, 2015

Injury Rates Between Female Collegiate and High School Volleyball Differ

A comparison of women’s collegiate and girls’ high school volleyball injury data collected prospectively over a 4-year period

Reeser JC, Gregory A, Berg RL, Comstock RD. Sports Health. 2015;7(6):504-510.

Take Home Message: Differences exists between injury patterns of female collegiate and high school athletes.

Volleyball is considered a relatively safe sport; however, due to the growing popularity of the sport a sport-specific injury prevention program should be implemented. Unfortunately, there is limited quality injury data comparing high school and college volleyball, which hinders the development of an injury prevention program, which may need to be age specific. Therefore, the authors assessed injury data from 2 injury surveillance systems [National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Injury Surveillance System (NCAA ISS) & High School Reporting Injuries Online (HS RIO)] to compare volleyball specific injury data during a 4-year period (2005/2006 to 2008/2009) to determine whether differences existed in injury pattern characteristics between female high school and collegiate athletes. During this time period both systems implemented the same definition of an injury (any condition resulting in the loss of at least 1 day of practice or competition) as well as athletic exposures (AE; 1 athlete’s participation in 1 practice or competition without regard to duration of participation). Additionally, both systems relied on athletic trainers to report and describe injuries to their respective Internet-based reporting system. Overall, volleyball-related injury rates were three times higher in collegiate athletes during both competition (injury rate ration = 2.9) and practice (injury rate ration = 3.5) compared to high school athletes. Collegiate athletes have a higher rate of time loss due to acute and overuse injuries. Collegiate athletes had a higher rate of ankle sprains, patellar tendinosis, and should injuries (i.e., rotator cuff tendinosis, musculotendinous strain, and glenohumeral subluxation/dislocation). Ankle, knee, and shoulder injuries rates declined during the study interval in both groups; however, concussion rates increased in both groups. Concussions represented 5% of total collegiate injuries and 4.8% of total high school injuries. Ligamentous injuries (college: 11.7/10,000 AE; high school: 6.1/10,000 AE) were the most frequently reported injury with ankle sprains representing the most common injury in both groups (college: 10.4/10,000 AE; high school: 4.3/10,000 AE).

The data reported in this study demonstrates that although similar there are distinct differences between the injury patterns of female collegiate volleyball athletes compared to high school athletes. Collegiate athletes have an overall higher rate of injury as well as greater time loss due both acute and overuse to injury. This suggests that collegiate athletes may be playing with a different style of play, more intensity, and aggressiveness as well as have an increased risk of injury due to higher prevalence from a previous injury. It was concerning to note that within both groups concussion rates increased. Concussion represented the fourth most frequent diagnosis among collegiate athletes and third most frequent in the high school group. The increase in concussion diagnosis may be due to increased awareness of concussion injuries; however, future research should investigate sport position and age factors for concussion to determine whether changes to rules or coaching tactics may help decrease concussion rates. Medical professionals should note the differences among collegiate and high school female volleyball athletes to better understand injury patterns and rates to formulate an injury prevention program.

Questions for Discussion: Do many of your volleyball athletes sustain concussions? Do you implement sport-specific preventive programs?

Written by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
Reviewed by: Jeff Driban

Related Posts:

Reeser, J., Gregory, A., Berg, R., & Comstock, R. (2015). A Comparison of Women's Collegiate and Girls' High School Volleyball Injury Data Collected Prospectively Over a 4-Year Period Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 7 (6), 504-510 DOI: 10.1177/1941738115600143


Stephan Bodkin said...

Great article that is addressing a sport that has very little current research! I agree that the increase is injury rate in collegiate volleyball players is due to the high intensity and style of play. Most volleyball players place their shoulders in vulnerable positions, similar to baseball players, yet there is little focus on the number or repetitions that is stressing the joint, such as pitch counts. I feel like overtime, without the proper hitting mechanics, this can lead to breakdown within the joint tissue. I agree that future research should look into position and age factors to change rules or coaching strategies within the sport. Not only to address concussions, but to all sport related injuries. Again, great article!

Jane McDevitt said...

You bring up a great point. I wonder what the long term effects are for volleyball players that consistently perform that spiking motion. Due to the similar mechanics it seems that more research needs to be done within the volley ball athlete population.

Caroline L. said...

This article is a great example of how important contributing to injury surveillance systems can be for sports medicine research. These systems provide a large sample size to analyze from that many researchers may have trouble accessing on their own. Although the data is retrospective in natures, it can provide relevant bench mark data that can provide implications for future research as shown through this article. Also, I agree that an increase in concussions does warrant more investigation, but could potentially be due to an increase in awareness. It is important to consider the legislation that was implemented during the 2008/2009 year based around concussions and what affect that would probably have on an increase in concussion diagnoses. It would be interesting to see if between 2009 and 2015 concussion diagnoses plateaued at some point as the populations better implemented and understood the concussion legislation. I hope more athletic trainers contribute to injury surveillance systems like the ones utilized in this article in order to create more research based around various sports. Thanks for sharing the great article!

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