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Protective Equipment Use Among Female Rugby Players

Comstock, R Dawn PhD*†; Fields, Sarah K JD, PhD‡§; Knox, Christy L MA*

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2005 - Volume 15 - Issue 4 - p 241-245
doi: 10.1097/01.jsm.0000171288.37293.54
Original Research
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Objectives: Our objective was to assess the prevalence of protective equipment use and the motivation for using protective equipment among a sample of US female rugby players.

Design/Methods: We surveyed a convenience sample of 234 current US female rugby players from 14 teams participating in a US women's rugby tournament, obtaining self-reported demographic, rugby exposure, and protective equipment use information.

Results: Mouthguards were the most commonly used piece of protective equipment: 90.8% of players reported having always worn a mouthguard while playing or practicing rugby within their most recent 3 months of play. Fewer than 15% of players reported having always worn other types of protective equipment. Equipment use varied by playing position. Whereas over 80% of players in all other positions always wore a mouthguard, 66.7% of scrum halves reported always wearing one. Both backs and forwards reported wearing shoulder pads, but only forwards reported always wearing padded headgear. Mouthguards, padded headgear, and shoulder pads were worn “to prevent injury,” whereas ankle braces, neoprene sleeves, and athletic tape on joints were worn “to protect a current/recent injury.”

Conclusions: This is the first study of female rugby players to assess the prevalence of protective equipment use by playing position and the motivation for using protective equipment. With the exception of mouthguards, US female rugby players infrequently use protective equipment. Protective equipment use varies by playing position. Some types of protective equipment appear to be used as primary prevention mechanisms, whereas others are used as secondary or tertiary prevention mechanisms.

From the *Children's Research Institute, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Columbus, OH; the †Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; the ‡School of Phys. Activity and Ed. Services, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; and the §University of Georgia, Department of Kinesiology, Athens, GA.

Received for publication November 2004; accepted April 2005.

Reprints: R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, Children's Research Institute Center for Injury Research and Policy, 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, OH 43205 (e-mail: comstocd@pediatrics.ohio-state.edu).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.