High school athletes sustain millions of injuries annually, many of which are fractures. Fractures can severely affect athletes physically, emotionally, and financially and should be targeted with focused prevention methods.
Patterns and primary mechanisms of fractures differ by sport and gender.
Descriptive epidemiology study.
High school sports-related injury data were collected from academic years 2008-09 to 2010-11 for 18 sports and from 2009-10 to 2010-11 for 2 additional sports. We used linear regression to describe annual fracture rate trends and calculated fractures rates, rate ratios (RRs), and injury proportion ratios (IPRs).
From 2008-09 to 2010-11, certified athletic trainers reported a total of 21,251 injuries during 11,544,455 athlete exposures (AEs), of which 2103 (9.9%) were fractures, with an overall rate of 1.82 fractures per 10,000 AEs. Fracture rates were highest in football (4.37 per 10,000 AE), boys' ice hockey (3.08), and boys' lacrosse (2.59). Boys sustained 79.1% of all fractures, and the overall rates of fractures were greater in boys' sports than in girls' sports for competition (RR, 2.82; 95% CI, 2.45-3.24) and practice (RR, 2.43; 95% CI, 2.07-2.86). The most commonly fractured body sites were the hand/finger (32.1%), lower leg (10.1%), and wrist (9.5%). Overall, 17.2% of fractures required surgery, which was higher than for all other injuries combined (IPR, 3.14; 95% CI, 2.81-3.52). The most common mechanism of fracture involved contact with another player (45.5%). Using linear regression, we found the proportion of all injuries that were fractures was inversely correlated with the athlete's age (P = .02) but was not correlated with the athletes' age- and gender-adjusted body mass index.
Fractures are a significant problem for high school athletes. Targeted preventive interventions should be implemented to reduce the burdens these injuries cause the athletes.