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Epidemiology of Injuries in High School Football Players: A Prospective Cohort Study

Author(s): Stéphane Pelet, Jeremy J Bergeron, Mireille Marquis, Etienne L Belzile

Objective: To estimate the incidence and severity of injuries sustained by a group of high-school football players and to identify risk factors associated with these injuries

Design: Observational cohort study

Settings: High school football programs in Quebec, Canada

Participants: 707 male high-school football players were recruited and entered the study. They had to come from one of four participating high schools to be included in the study. All players completed the survey

Interventions: Participants filled out a questionnaire about sociodemographic data, football experience, and life habits. They were observed throughout a football season and any injury was entered into a database by the team’s trainer

Main outcome measures: Participants were divided into “injured” or “non-injured” at the end of the observation period. Each injury was analyzed independently. Incidence rates of injury were calculated per 1000 Athlete-Exposures (AEs) and potential risk factors were assessed

Results: 294 players sustained 413 injuries (11.67 per 1000 AEs; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 11.63-11.7). Injuries were more frequent in game than practice (Relative Risk (RR) 41.67, CI 30.5-56.9). The most frequent injuries were concussions (3.11 per 1000 AEs; CI 3.09-3.13). The presence of a previous injury was associated with significantly more subsequent injuries (p=0.0006). Other significant associations were the presence of another active injury, tobacco use, and a higher BMI (p<0.05)

Conclusion: Injuries are frequent in high-school football players. Future prevention strategies should focus on athletes with a previous history of injury. Reducing concussion rate is also necessary in this growing population.

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