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Shoulder Injuries in U.S. High School Athletes Occur More Often in Boys

Study finds shoulder injuries are three times more likely to occur during competition


COLUMBUS, OH - 1/26/2009

Although shoulder injuries accounted for just 8 percent of all injuries sustained by high school athletes, shoulder injuries were relatively common in predominately male sports such as baseball (18 percent of all injuries), wrestling (18 percent) and football (12 percent). Moreover, boys experienced higher shoulder injury rates than girls, particularly in soccer and baseball/softball.  

Player-to-player contact was associated with nearly 60 percent of high school athletes’ shoulder injuries from 2005 through 2007, according to a study published in the online issue of the Journal of Athletic Training and conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This is the first study to examine shoulder injuries across sports in a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school athletes. 

“Shoulder injuries were far more likely to occur in football and wrestling than in any other sport,” explained the study’s author Ellen Yard, MPH, research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Shoulder injuries were also three times more likely to occur in competition compared to practice.”

The most common shoulder injuries included sprains and strains (37 percent), dislocations and separations (24 percent), contusions (12 percent) and fractures (7 percent). Surgery was required for 6 percent of shoulder injuries. Dislocations and separations accounted for more than half of all shoulder surgeries.

“Wrestling shoulder injuries were most likely to require surgery, with almost 1 in 10 requiring such procedures,” said study co-author Dawn Comstock, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Even more importantly, in all sports, almost 1 in 4 athletes missed at least three weeks of their season following a shoulder injury. This underscores the importance of preventing shoulder injuries before they occur.”

Sports studied included football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, and baseball and softball. Data for the study were collected from the 2005-2007 National High School Sports Injury Surveillance Study (High School RIO™) and were funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research as its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, advocacy and advances in clinical care. In recognition of CIRP’s valuable research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently named the Center for Injury Research and Policy as one of only 13 centers in the United States to be designated as an Injury Control Research Center. Learn more about the Center for Injury Research and Policy at http://www.injurycenter.org.

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