Epidemiology of Injuries in Women's Lacrosse: Implications for Sport-, Level-, and Sex-Specific Injury Prevention Strategies.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

By the end of 2013, the United States had an estimated 278 000 female lacrosse players, with half of those participating at the youth level. The effects of the sport's rapid growth on injury rates have yet to be determined. The purpose of this clinical review is to synthesize the available published data on injuries that have occurred in the sport of women's lacrosse. Of particular interest was the risk of injury based on the level of play and position.

DATA SOURCES

A comprehensive literature search was performed in PubMed, High Wire Press, SPORTDiscus, Google Scholar, and Ovid using the keywords "Lacrosse Injuries," "Epidemiology Lacrosse Injuries," "Lacrosse Injury," "Lacrosse," and "Injury."

STUDY SELECTION

The electronic search included material published during or after 1950. In addition, all bibliographies of electronically found sources were cross-referenced to identify any additional publications that were not produced in the electronic searches.

DATA EXTRACTION

All articles with data on women's injury rates were categorized by overall injury rates, rates by session (competition vs practice), nature of injury, location, type, severity, and player position.

DATA SYNTHESIS

Injury rates increase with age: from youth leagues to high school and finally to the collegiate level. Rates of injury varied from 0.03 to 3.9 injuries/100 athletes. Women's game injury rates are consistently higher than practice injury rates (ranging from 0.2 to 7.1 vs 0.01 to 3.3). Injuries occur most frequently from stick-to-player or player-to-ball contact, rather than player-to-player contact. Women sustain a higher percentage of head and facial injuries relative to male lacrosse players. The most common types of injuries for women are concussions, sprains, contusions, and lacerations. More than half of all injuries are in the mild category resulting in players missing practice and games for 1 to 7 days. Offensive players had the most injuries, followed by defensive players and then midfielders, with goalies having the fewest number of injuries.

CONCLUSIONS

In women's lacrosse, the rules and equipment used are substantially different than for the men's game. Face and hand injuries are more prevalent for women when compared with men, and ankle injuries are most prevalent in female youth. Medical professionals who treat lacrosse players can benefit from an improved understanding of the types and rates of the injuries they are likely to encounter. Improved awareness of lacrosse-specific injuries can assist these professionals to be more prepared to treat these athletes, which may lead to improved care and outcomes.

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