Coaches, players, and their medical teams are mostly concerned with concussions or other severe injuries — like broken bones or torn ligaments. Now they have something else to worry about.
A team of researchers looked at the odds of getting injured by a ball in 11 collegiate sports – men’s football, women’s field hockey, women’s volleyball, men’s baseball, women’s softball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s soccer. Their findings were published in the Journal of Athletic Training in July.
The researchers at the University of North Carolina, Ohio University, and Texas State University studied 1,123 ball-contact injuries that occurred during the academic years of 2009-10 through 2014-15. They determined that women’s softball was the sport with the highest ball-contact injury rates, followed by women’s field hockey and men’s baseball.
About 32 percent of the ball-contact injuries were to the hand and wrist, while 27 percent of the players in the study were hit in the head or face.
In more than half the cases, players did not take any time off from their game. But 6.6 percent of the injuries were considered severe enough to keep the student-athlete from playing for more than three weeks, or caused a player to end participation for the season. Concussions and finger fractures were the two most common severe injuries.
In sports played by both sexes – softball/baseball, basketball, and soccer – concussions were more often diagnosed in women than men.
The researchers said that playing rules should be enforced, and improved protective equipment should be used in practices and games to reduce ball-contact injuries.
Each year, 460,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA sports.