Head and face injuries in scholastic women's lacrosse with and without eyewear

WEBSTER, DWIGHT A.; BAYLISS, GENE VEREL; SPADARO, JOSEPH A.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 7 - pp 938-941
Clinical Sciences: Clinical Investigations

Head and face injuries in scholastic women's lacrosse with and without eyewear. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 938-941, 1999.

Purpose: The use of protective equipment has been absent or inconsistent in scholastic women's lacrosse leading to increasing concern for eye and head injury. There is a paucity of field data, however, on which to base strategic decisions on how best to prevent head injuries in young athletes.

Methods: This study examined the effects of protective eyewear on injury rates in scholastic women's lacrosse in a cohort of approximately 700 varsity and junior varsity players in central New York studied prospectively for 2 yr during a transition from sparse to almost complete eyewear use.

Results: The overall head/face injury rate was 0.71 injuries per 1000 exposures (games and practices) and was 16.5% lower in goggle wearers. In games alone, where more aggressive play and stick use prevails, the rate associated with protective eyewear use was markedly lower (51%). Considering specific regions, the rates for peri-orbit and forehead injuries among goggle users were substantially lower than for nonusers (6% and 13%, respectively). Cheek and scalp injury rates tended to be higher among goggle wearers, but not statistically significantly so. Significant compensatory increases with goggle wear at other sites were not observed. Only a few injuries appeared to be mediated by the goggles themselves and potentially could have been more serious if the goggles had not been present. No direct eye (orbit) injuries were reported throughout the study period.

Conclusion: On balance, then, the use of eyewear in women's lacrosse appears to be beneficial when users are compared with nonusers.

Sports Medicine Section and Department of Orthopedic Surgery, S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center, Syracuse NY

Submitted for publication July 1997.

Accepted for publication December 1997.

This work was supported in part by a grant from the National Operating Committee for Standards on Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and also supported by the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center at Syracuse.

The authors are grateful to the trainers and coaches in NY Section III and to Monica Castro for their cooperation and assistance. The authors thank the Cortland Standard, Cortland NY, for permission to use the photo in Figure 1.

Address for correspondence: Dwight A. Webster, M.D., Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 550 Harrison Center, Syracuse, NY 13202.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.