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High School Lacrosse Players at Risk for Concussions

Update Date: Jul 22, 2014 09:23 AM EDT

Researchers who have studied concussions tend to focus on one sport only, football. Even though football is a high-contact, high-impact sport, it is not the only sport that could endanger athletes' health. Another fast growing sport that more and more high school students are getting into has recently been tied to causing concussions and other injuries. According to a new study, researchers reported that high school lacrosse players are at risk of suffering from these types of sports injuries as well.

"Lacrosse is becoming more and more popular across the United States, and it's a great way for high school students to be active," said Lara B. McKenzie, PhD, an author of the study, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's and associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Still, we see injuries in the sport every day during the season. Our research shows that we need to do more and can do more to prevent those injuries."

For this study, the researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Colorado School of Public Health examined the injury rate for high school lacrosse players between 2008 and 2012. Over the span of four school years, there were a total of 1,406 injuries. Overall, the rate was 20 injuries per 100,000 lacrosse events, which included games and practices.

The most common form of injury at 38 percent was sprains and strains. The second most common injury was concussion at over 22 percent. The researchers noted that the rules for boys and girls' lacrosse were not the same, which could explain why the injury rates were different.

In female athletes, 44 percent of the injuries were sprains/strains and 23 percent of the injuries were concussions. Nearly a quarter of the concussions were caused by person-to-person contact and another 63 percent of the concussions were caused by a lacrosse stick or lacrosse balls. Boys, on the other hand, had an overall higher injury rate than girls. Around 36 percent of boys suffered from sprains or strains and 22 percent experienced a concussion. 74 percent of the concussions were caused by physical contact with another player.

"Concern over concussions in both boys' and girls' lacrosse underscores the need to learn more about these injuries," Dawn Comstock, PhD, an author of the study and an professor of Epidemiology for the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education, and Research (PIPER) program at the Colorado School of Public Health, said according to the press release. "Further study will help those working to develop and implement effective injury prevention programs."

The study was published in the journal, The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

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