injury rates in collegiate sports.

Agel J, Schisel J. Clin
J Sports Med
. 2012. [Epub
ahead of print] doi:

when injuries are more likely to occur (e.g., practice vs competition,
preseason vs in-season) can help us optimize injury prevention programs. To
date, research has hinted at evidence that practice injury rates may be higher during
pre-season compared to other parts of the season but this has not been
thoroughly investigated. Therefore, Agel and Schisel evaluated the differences
in practice injury rates within a competitive season (preseason, in-season,
postseason) and across 15 sports and college levels (NCAA Division I, II, and
III). The authors used the NCAA Injury Surveillance System for data collection and identified within- season practice injury rates between 1988 and 2004. Each
enrolled school had designated personnel to track the number of athletes
participating, injury occurrence, and subsequent loss of time from activity. Per
sport, approximately 10% of eligible schools participated each year. The
authors followed the NCAA definition of seasonal sports as well as the
classification of practices and competition. A practice injury was defined as
any injury that occurred while at an NCAA sanctioned practice, required
evaluation by an athletic trainer or physician, and resulted in at least one
day loss of participation. Injury rates were then recorded per 1000 Athletic
Exposures (A-E), which was considered participation in any NCAA sanctioned event.
The highest practice injury rate was observed in preseason (~6.3 per 1000 A-E)
followed by in-season (~2.3 per 1000 A-E) and post-season (~1.3 per 1000 A-E)
practices. Additionally, fall sports had the highest rate ratio of preseason-to-in-season
practice injuries (> 3 times more injuries in preseason than in-season) compared
to winter sports (~ 2.5 more injuries in preseason) and spring sports (> 2
times more injuries in preseason). To be more specific, the highest ratios of
preseason-to-in-season practice injuries were in football, men’s soccer, and
women’s soccer while the lowest ratios were in women’s lacrosse and men’s
wrestling. Injury differences across NCAA divisions were anticipated by the
authors but the data did not consistently support this.

article provides a basis for future investigation of possible reasons for the
increased preseason injury rates, as well as acts as a guide in the development
of training regimens to attempt to reduce the risk of preseason injuries. Contributing
to the higher ratio of fall preseason-to-in-season injuries may be the long
summer break, which each athlete spends differently. Not all athletes keep up
with their training and conditioning during the summer. These factors may contribute
to fall sports demonstrating the highest ratio of fall preseason-to-in-season
injuries. However, it cannot be ruled out if this finding is just a common
characteristic of the sports that play in the fall (e.g., football, soccer). Are
you seeing similar trends in your setting? What methods do you use to attempt
to mitigate preseason practice injuries, particularly in fall sports?

Written by:
Christian Glaser, DO and Peter C. Vitanzo, MD
by: Laura McDonald


Agel J, & Schisel J (2012). Practice Injury Rates in Collegiate Sports. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine PMID: 23160274