Mandatory eye protection may reduce field hockey injuries

1. High school girl’s field hockey teams were evaluated for injuries before and after the establishment of a national mandate to use protective eyewear.

2. The risk of sustaining an eye or orbital injury during girls’ high school field hockey was reduced by 3 times after implementation of the national mandate.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)  

Study Rundown: Field hockey remains a popular high school sport among women despite the potential risk of sustaining serious eye and other head injuries. In 2011, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) established a mandate stating that all high school field hockey players must wear protective eyewear during NFHS competitions. Authors of the current study sought to examine the effects of this mandate on the rates of eye and orbital injuries before and after its implementation. Results indicated that the rate of eye/orbital injuries was significantly higher in states without the mandate, although there was no improvement in the occurrence of concussions. The results of this study are limited by lack of randomization in study design and incomplete data provided by athletic trainers. However, this study should urge providers to support the wearing protective eyewear at all times during field hockey practices and competition.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Effectiveness of protective eyewear in reducing eye injuries among high school field hockey players

In-Depth [prospective cohort]: The injury records from 206 high school girl’s field hockey teams were included for analysis. Researchers gathered data pertaining to field hockey injuries from the High School Reporting Information Online collection tool (a national database) and from the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools Athletic Training Program (a regional database). Injuries were categorized according to date, exposure (practice vs. competition), injury characteristics, and circumstances leading to injury. Eye-orbital injuries included eyebrow/eyelid lacerations, periorbital contusions, and corneal abrasions. Data from 2 years pre- and post-implementation of the national mandate for protective eyewear (MPE) were compared. Eye/orbital injuries were 3 times more likely to occur in the non-MPE group (OR 3.20, 95% CI 1.47-6.99). The incidence of eye/orbital injuries was significantly reduced in the MPE group (0.025 MPE vs. 0.080 non-MPE, p =.003). Concussions were the most common injury (50.4%), although there was no statistically significant difference between the MPE and non-MPE groups (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.58-1.02, p = 0.68).

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