Baltimore, Feb. 15, 2013 – A new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine on February 14 may help keep athletes safer by identifying and preventing the incidence of concussion injuries in boys’ high school lacrosse. The study, led by US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety committee member Andrew E. Lincoln, ScD, MS, director of the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, used video analysis technology to take a closer look at the common game interactions responsible for concussions in boys’ lacrosse.
The study was sponsored by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and the US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Committee. Dr. Lincoln partnered with three other USL Sports Science & Safety committee members: Shane V. Caswell, PhD, ATC, George Mason (Va.) University; Jon L. Almquist, VATL, ATC, Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools; and Richard Y. Hinton, MD, MPH, PT, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, as well as Reginald E. Dunn, MS, MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center on the study.
With the goal of maximizing injury prevention efforts and reducing concussion occurrence, the study tried to gain a thorough understanding of the associated injury mechanisms and game-play scenarios most common during the game of lacrosse. Lacrosse is the fastest-growing high school boys’ sport in the United States.
Using video analysis, the researchers were able to comprehensively examine game-play characteristics, including the location of the injury on the playing surface, the number of players involved, and the field conditions. In addition to characterizing the play in which the injury occurred, video analysis also enabled the researchers to objectively examine the injury mechanisms involved, revealing whether the impact was contact or noncontact, and the location on the body or helmet where the impact occurred.
The study revealed that all game-related concussions captured on video resulted from player-to-player contact. The researchers examined video footage of head injury incidents of 518 boys’ high school lacrosse games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. After analyzing the results, the researchers identified a total of 34 concussion incidents captured on video, each resulting from player-to-player bodily contact.
In addition, players were most often injured when contact was unanticipated or players were defenseless, attempting to pick up a loose ball and/or ball handling. Most frequently, the striking player’s head was involved in the collision, and the struck player’s head was the initial point of impact. In 68 percent of cases, a subsequent impact with the playing surface occurred immediately after the initial impact. The analysis also showed that a penalty was called in only 26 percent of these collisions.
Related to preliminary findings of this study, US Lacrosse requested a rule change to remove deliberate contact to the head in men’s lacrosse. These rule changes were implemented in 2011 by the NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for collegiate and high school play, respectively.
"The finding that the majority of concussions were associated with unanticipated contact is a major concern that was immediately addressed by US Lacrosse, who requested the rule change," Lincoln said.
This research team previously used video analysis in girls’ lacrosse to objectively examine game-play characteristics and injury mechanisms. This study is the first of its kind to use video analysis in injury research for boys’ lacrosse.
Earlier studies investigating lacrosse injuries have depended on eyewitness and self-reports to assess game play and injury mechanisms. Video analysis, however, permits the identification of details of events occurring in a fraction of a second that may not be accurately reported by the injured party, parent, coach, or other observer.
The findings of this study serve as a step toward further understanding concussions in boys’ high school lacrosse. Additional exploration of preventive measures, including the education of coaches and officials, and the enforcement of rules designed to prevent intentional head-to-head contact are necessary to reduce the incidence of concussions in boys’ lacrosse.
"This study resulted from the successful partnership of a progressive school system, sport governing body, and researchers at a major healthcare system and university to improve our understanding of concussion mechanisms in boys’ high school lacrosse," said Lincoln. "We are excited about the prospects of applying these techniques to better understand concussion mechanisms in lacrosse and other sports that will lead to effective prevention efforts."
To view an abstract of the study titled, "Video Incident Analysis of Concussions in Boys’ High School Lacrosse," click here.
About US Lacrosse
US Lacrosse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse and the home of the nation’s fastest-growing sport. US Lacrosse has more than 400,000 members in 64 regional chapters across the country. Through responsive and effective leadership, US Lacrosse provides programs and services to inspire participation while protecting the integrity of the sport.
About MedStar Health Research Institute
The MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center is part of the MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI), the research arm of MedStar Health. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, DC regions. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the ten MedStar hospitals and other MedStar Health entities.