The Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse has announced continued funding for an ongoing research study at the University of Florida that is designed to provide greater insights about the risk of injury among high school girls’ lacrosse players. 

Being conducted by lead investigator, Dr. Daniel Herman, the two-year research study is specifically aimed at evaluating the differences in concussion and musculoskeletal injury rates between helmeted and non-helmeted high school girls’ lacrosse players. 

Initiated prior to the 2019 season, Herman’s research study is the largest ever conducted regarding the injury impact of headgear use in girls’ high school lacrosse. The project has funding support to collect data from 170 team-seasons, with reporting split between teams from within Florida and outside the state.

To date, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) is the only state-wide governing body that requires headgear use by female players.

US Lacrosse and NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) rules mandate that any women’s headgear used after January 1, 2017 must meet the ASTM performance standard, F3137. The rules also state that girls’ headgear use is voluntary.

Injury data is being reported electronically by athletic trainers to an existing national high school injury registry. Data is being provided for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Injury data reporting during the 2019 season included 40 teams in Florida and 72 teams outside of Florida. The continued research funding is expected to support data reporting by an additional 60 team-seasons for the 2020 season. 

Data representation includes teams from multiple states that sanction high school girls’ lacrosse across different geographic regions, including the West, Midwest, and South.

“This study is an important piece of the conversation on headgear in the women’s game. While certified women’s headgear has been optional equipment for a couple of seasons, we only have anecdotal reports on its impact on player safety and on play of the game,” said Caitlin Kelley, women’s game director at US Lacrosse. “This study will provide critical data to bring to the rules committee for review.”

In addition to the research study’s primary aim of evaluating differences regarding concussion and musculoskeletal injuries between high school girls’ lacrosse players wearing headgear versus those that do not wear headgear, the secondary aim is to evaluate differences in attitudes and perceptions about girls’ headgear, by region, based on survey responses by players, coaches, and referees in Florida and outside of Florida.

“We believe that this large-scale study will be incredibly significant to the girls’ game as we aim to continuously provide guidance and oversight to the safety of the game,” said Dr. Bruce Griffin, director of the Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse. “This research continues the tradition of US Lacrosse making evidence-based decisions. Following our in-depth involvement in developing the ASTM standard for headgear performance, we want to know how this piece of equipment impacts the safety of the athletes who play the sport.”

Findings are expected to be made public in late 2020 or early 2021.

“The information obtained from this study will be critical for the development of evidence-based actions and policies for girls’ lacrosse,” Herman said. 

Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse has invested over $700,000 in lacrosse-specific safety research since 2016. 

Some additional funding for this research study is also being provided by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. 

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