High School Basketball Injuries Top 2.5 Million

Lara McKenzie, Ph.D. MA Associate Professor of Pediatrics Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, OhioMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lara McKenzie, Ph.D. MA
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, Ohio

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. McKenzie: Our study was the first to compare and describe epidemiological patterns of basketball-related injuries presenting for treatment to emergency departments and to the high school athletic training setting using surveillance data captured from large, nationally representative samples. Specifically, we compared estimated national incidence, rates of injury and body sites injured, and diagnoses. Nationally, an estimated 1,514,957 athletes with basketball-related injuries reported to the emergency department and 1,064,551 presented to the athletic training setting. Patterns of basketball-related injuries presenting to the emergency department differ from those presenting to the high school athletic training setting for treatment, with those presenting to the emergency department being more severe. In general, injuries that could be relatively quickly assessed and more easily diagnosed and treated, such as strains and/or sprains, presented more commonly to the athletic training setting, while injuries that required more extensive diagnostic or treatment procedures, such as fractures, were treated more commonly in the emergency department.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. McKenzie: Over one-half of the injuries assessed in the high school athletic training setting were treated by a healthcare provider in conjunction with a certified athletic trainer, but only a small percentage were also treated by physicians in the emergency department, demonstrating the ability of certified athletic trainers to triage injuries to appropriate levels of clinical care. The treatment of sport-related injuries in the athletic training setting is an important service that alleviates strain on emergency departments and hospital systems. Further, since only 42% of US high schools have access to an certified athletic trainer, most high school athletes are left to seek care in clinical settings.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. McKenzie: Certified athletic trainers play an important role in providing care for less severely injured athletes, thus lessening the patient burden on the health care system and the economic burden on the injured athletes’ families.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study? 

Dr. McKenzie: The findings of our study indicate the need to evaluate the full spectrum of sport-related injuries presenting across the wide variety of clinical settings in order to accurately measure rates and patterns of sport-related injury.


Lara B. McKenzie , PhD, MA et al. Epidemiologic Comparison of Injured High School Basketball Athletes Reporting to Emergency Departments and the Athletic Training Setting. Journal of Athletic Training, April 2014


Last Updated on May 1, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD