Epidemiology of Knee Injuries Among US High School Athletes, 2005/06 – 2010/11
Swenson DM, Collins CL, Best TM, Flanigan DC, Fields SK, & Comstock RD. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Published ahead of Print. doi 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318277acca
Sports injury risk increases with greater participation and competitiveness that is occurring at the high school level. Previous reports have demonstrated that the prevalence of knee injuries is high among the US high school population, however, there is a lack of information reported regarding gender and sport. The purpose of this observational epidemiologic study was to report knee injury rates in the high school athletic population (including sport & the injured structure). One hundred schools were randomly selected across varying sizes and socioeconomic status to participate in this injury surveillance study. High school athletic trainers reported athletic exposure and injury information to the National High School Sports Related Injury Surveillance System, High School Reporting Information Online. Fifteen percent of all athletic injuries reported between 2005/06 – 2010/11 seasons were knee injuries, with approximately half of these being ligamentous in nature. Nationally, it was extrapolated that there were over 1.2 million knee injuries in high school athletics during this time frame. Highest knee injury rates occurred in football (6.29), girls’ soccer (4.53) and girls’ gymnastics (4.23), while the average was 2.98 (knee injuries per 10,000 athletic exposures). The highest injury rates occurred in competition over practice and in females over males in gender comparable sports. The most commonly injured structure was the medial collateral ligament, and 21.2% of all knee injuries were treated with surgery.
Clinically, there is a need for sport specific injury prevention programs at the high school level. It appears that this study is mirroring some similar findings at the collegiate level (higher number of knee injuries in males, greater rates in females, and significant number treated with surgery). However, many of the injury prevention programs focus on preventing non-contact ACL injuries, and there may need to be prevention programs more appropriately designed for contact ACL injuries. Also, athletes in contact sports who may be more susceptible to contact ACL injuries could possibly benefit from a protective brace of some sort. On another note, these early knee injuries pose a significant financial burden in the short-term, however, could severely affect quality of life in the long-term. Evidence demonstrates that injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament or meniscus can result in osteoarthritic changes within 10 years of injury. High school athletes range from the ages of 13 – 18, and as a result of suffering a knee injury so early in life, could be physically hampered in their mid to late twenties. This could adversely affect their collegiate athletic career or their normal active lifestyles. Prevention is key. Does anyone have any ideas of any existing programs that may be successful or where these programs should be worked into a young athlete’s training? How early should we start trying to utilize any prevention programs? Does anyone have any opinions on the possibility of a preventative bracing for contact ACL injuries?
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Stephen Thomas
Related Posts:Swenson DM, Collins CL, Best TM, Flanigan DC, Fields SK, & Comstock RD (2012). Epidemiology of Knee Injuries Among US High School Athletes, 2005/06-2010/11. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise PMID: 23059869