Jan 29, 2015
Where it Hurts in Hoops

By Dawn Comstock, PhD

Each month, The Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides T&C with an inside look at their studies of high school athletics injuries. In this blog, Dawn Comstock, PhD takes a look at injury rates and trends for both boys and girls basketball players.

The number of students taking to the courts increases every year. Today, over a million high school students participate in their school’s basketball program. While pursuing their hoop dreams, these athletes can derive benefits such as improved physical health and increased self esteem. Additionally, recent research reported that basketball has a lower injury rate than football, soccer, and wrestling.1 However, high school basketball coaches and athletic trainers still see their athletes sustain an estimated 200,000 injuries every year.

By understanding when and how basketball injuries occur, coaches and trainers can develop interventions to prevent potentially sidelining events before they occur. Here is the most current, up-to-date information that sports researchers have on basketball-related injuries, provided via the National High School Sports Injury Surveillance Study:

How often do basketball injuries occur?

• On average, a high school basketball player sustained one injury in every 700 practices and one injury in every 300 competitions

• Girls sustained injuries slightly more often than boys: for every seven injuries sustained by boys, girls sustained eight injuries

What types of injuries should a basketball coach or athletic trainer expect to see?

• The most common injury diagnoses: Ligament sprains (44 percent) Muscle/tendon strains (17.7 percent) Contusions (8.6 percent) Fractures (8.5 percent) Concussions (7 percent)

• The most common body sites injured: Ankle/foot (39.7 percent) Knee (14.7 percent) Head/face/neck (13.6 percent) Arm/hand (9.6 percent) Hip/thigh/upper leg (8.4 percent)

• Although injury diagnoses and body sites injured were usually similar between girls and boys, girls were over twice as likely to sustain a concussion How serious were basketball injuries?

• Over half of all basketball-related injuries resulted in three weeks time loss

• One in 12 injuries were season ending

• One in 13 injuries required surgery

• Girls most frequently required surgery for knee ligament sprains (47 percent of all girls’ surgeries) and knee muscle/tendon strains (22.1 percent)

• Boys most frequently required surgery for head/face/neck fractures (23.4 percent of all boys’ surgeries), knee ligament sprains (17.4 percent), and knee muscle/tendon strains (13.5 percent)

When did basketball injuries occur?

• The most common activities during injury: Rebounding (25.1 percent) General play (16.9 percent) Defending (14.8 percent) Ball handling/dribbling (8.9 percent) Shooting (8.5 percent)

• The most common mechanisms of injury: Collision with another player (22.5 percent) Jumping/landing (17.5 percent) Stepped on/fell on/kicked (13.4 percent) Rotation around a planted foot/inversion (11.4 percent)

• One in 8 injuries were associated with illegal activity

How could basketball injuries be prevented?

• Knee injuries are usually the most costly, both in terms of time loss and medical care. Previous research has suggested that programs focusing on knee strengthening or improved balance may decrease the incidence of serious knee injuries.

• Because the ankle was the most common site of injury, trainers should keep up-to-date on the latest recommendations regarding the effectiveness of preventive braces and orthotic devices.

• Due to the higher injury rates in competition, tougher regulations and officiating could decrease both the incidence and severity of competition-related injuries.

• Continued surveillance is warranted to monitor injury rates and patterns through time and determine the effectiveness of implemented interventions. References 1. Centers for Disease Control. Sports-related injuries among high school athletes–United States, 2005-06 school year. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2006;55(38):1037-1040. 2. Emery CA, Rose MS, McAllister JR, et al. A prevention strategy to reduce the incidence of injury in high school basketball: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2007;17(1):17-24. 3. McGuine TA, Keene JS. The effect of a balance training program on the risk of ankle sprains in high school athletes. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2006;34(7):1103-1111.

Dawn Comstock, PhD, is a principle investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She is also an assistant professor at The Ohio State University in the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health. Her research interests include the epidemiology of sports, recreation, and leisure activity-related injuries among children and adolescents as well as the life-long health benefits associated with an active childhood. She can be reached at [email protected].

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