A new study that collected data on boys’ youth lacrosse injuries during the 2015 season found that most injuries were to the lower extremity. The findings were recently published in Injury Epidemiology, with Dr. Andrew Lincoln and Dr. Shane Caswell, two members of the US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Committee, serving among the researchers.

The study, sponsored by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), found that most injuries were to the lower extremity (45.2%) and were diagnosed as contusions (51.6%) and sprains (14.8%). Ten concussions (6.5%) were reported. Most injuries were due to equipment contact, particularly stick contact (35.5%) and ball contact (14.2%).

Conversely, the researchers found that the proportion of boys’ youth lacrosse injuries due to checking were low. This may be attributable to the US Lacrosse Boys’ Rules, which prohibit body checking in the U9/U11 divisions, and allow for limited body checking in the U13/U15 divisions.

In general, the study found that youth injury rates, especially within the U13/U15 divisions, were similar to previous findings reported for high school injury rates.

“The findings suggest the need to examine the use of age-appropriate rules, enforcement of rules protecting players from defenseless hits, and proper teaching of checking skills in the boys’ game,” Lincoln said. “This is the first report from a national sample of boys’ youth lacrosse injuries. We’re looking forward to combining these findings with a second year of data and exploring injuries among girls’ youth lacrosse players as well.”

“US Lacrosse is interested in determining which leagues are using US Lacrosse Youth Rules and have US Lacrosse certified coaches to reinforce existing research on the efficacy of those programs,” said Dr. Bruce Griffin, director of health and sport safety at US Lacrosse. “We need to focus more research dollars on the youth game to understand injuries. Youth players face different risks at various stages of development.”

The study collected aggregate injury and exposure data from 550 boys’ youth lacrosse players, between the ages of 9-15, from eight leagues in four states (Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia). On-site athletic trainers reported the injury and exposure data from all games and practices. An exposure was defined as one player participating in one game or practice.

An injury was defined as an incident/illness that occurred during a league-sanctioned game or practice that required evaluation by an athletic trainer. Injuries were further categorized as being either time loss, which restricted participation for at least 24 hours, or non-time loss, in which participation was restricted for less than 24 hours.

All told, 155 injuries were reported from 11,946 athlete-exposures. Most injuries occurred during games (60%) and were non-time loss (83.9%).

To view the short report from this study, titled, “The Epidemiology of Boys’ Youth Lacrosse Injuries in the 2015 Season,” please click here.