Lacrosse Injuries Differ By Sex and Type of Play

Lara B. McKenzie, PhD MA Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH Interview with:
Lara B. McKenzie, PhD MA
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, OH 43205

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? 

Dr. McKenzie: Our main findings were that lacrosse injury rates and patterns are different by sex and by type of athletic activity. Boys’ lacrosse allows for some person-to-person contact, while girls’ lacrosse largely outlaws it. Boys had an overall injury rate of 2.26 per 1000 athletic exposures, and girls had an injury rate of 1.54 per 1000 athletic exposures. The overall injury rate was about 3 times higher in competition than in practice. We also found that sprains and strains were the most common injury diagnosis for boys and girls (boys: 35.6% of injuries; girls: 43.9%), but that concussions were a significant injury diagnosis (boys: 21.9% of injuries; girls: 22.7%).

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected? 

Dr. McKenzie: Girls’ lacrosse largely outlaws person-to-person contact, so that might not be expected to cause injury. Most girls’ lacrosse players, in fact, are only required to use protective eyewear and mouth guards, and not the helmets and additional padding required for boys’ lacrosse. We found, however, that 24.8% of concussions in girls’ lacrosse were associated with person-to-person contact. A total 26% of all lacrosse injuries to girls were to the head and face.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? 

Dr. McKenzie: Concussions are a concern in high school lacrosse because of the potential short-term and long-term negative health effects. The high frequency of concussions and head/face injuries may provide evidence for those who support the adoption of helmets in girls’ lacrosse like the ones used in boys’ lacrosse.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study? 

Dr. McKenzie: Additional research is needed to determine the effectiveness of possible interventions, including helmets in girls’ lacrosse, more stringent rules and rule enforcement during competition for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, and educational programs for coaches in boys’ and girls’ lacrosse.


Lacrosse Injuries Among High School Boys and Girls in the United States: Academic Years 2008-2009
Joe Xiang, Christy L. Collins, Daniel Liu, Lara B. McKenzie, and R. Dawn Comstock

Through 2011-2012 Am J Sports Med July 22, 2014 ; published online before print July 22, 2014, doi:10.1177/0363546514539914