High School Sports Injury Surveillance: Monitoring Rates and Patterns of Injury Over Time.

Principle Investigator: R. Dawn Comstock, Ph.D.

Institution:Columbus Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy

Title: High School Sports Injury Surveillance: Monitoring Rates and Patterns of Injury Over Time

Abstract: For two decades the NCAA Injury Surveillance system (ISS) has improved the health of collegiate athletes by providing data on injury rates, patterns, and risk factors to drive rules, safety, and medical advisory committees’ discussions. The resulting evidence-based injury prevention projects (including new uses of protective sports equipment) have successfully reduced rates and severity collegiate athletes’ injuries. Despite the fact that the biophysiology of adolescents differs from that of young adults in ways that alter their injury risks (adolescents have lower muscle mass, immature growth plates, etc.) no equivalent system existed for high school athletes.

In response to this need, during the 2005/2006 academic year a nationally representative high school sports injury surveillance system modeled closely after the NCAA ISS was piloted. The pilot provided the first nationally representative results of high school sports injury rates reported in over a decade, provided the first opportunity to directly compare national injury rates and patterns of injury among high school and collegiate athletes, and provided immediate assistance to the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) rules and sports medicine advisory committees as researchers responded to several requests for data to drive discussions on a variety of subjects. To demonstrate methodological soundness, the ability to maintain the system over time, and the value of monitoring trends over time, the surveillance system was continued in 2006/2007.

A limitation noted during the study’s first two years was a difficulty capturing protective sports equipment data, particularly data on the use of protective sports equipment allowed but not mandated by sports rules (mouthguards in basketball, etc.). The objective of this proposal is to continue the national high school sports injury surveillance project while attempting to improve the ability to capture data on protective sports equipment use. This will be accomplished via three specific aims: 1) survey the NATA affiliated ATCs serving as data reporters in year 1 of the study to determine the most feasible and acceptable way to capture data on protective sports equipment use, 2) use these findings to update the surveillance system in year 2 of the study, and 3) compare the data captured by the surveillance system in years 1 and 2 to determine if the quality and quantity of data on protective sports equipment was improved. The ultimate goal is to improve the health of high school athletes by providing data to drive targeted evidence-based injury prevention projects.