Nevin Manimala Statistics

Changes in the incidence of stress reactions and fractures among intercollegiate athletes after the COVID-19 pandemic

J Orthop Surg Res. 2023 Oct 20;18(1):788. doi: 10.1186/s13018-023-04282-7.


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to characterize the impact of detraining due to the COVID-19 pandemic on incidence of bony injuries and stress fractures in collegiate athletes.

METHODS: A comprehensive collegiate athletic conference injury database was queried for all in-season, sport-related bony injuries (defined as all stress reactions and fractures) that occurred across all sports from January 2016 to June 2021. The bony injury rate per 1000 athlete exposure hours (AEH) was calculated and compared between the immediate post-hiatus season and historic rates from pre-hiatus seasons (2016-2019). Injury characteristics were also compared between the pre- and post-hiatus time periods.

RESULTS: A total of 868 bony injuries across 23 sports were identified. The sports with highest overall baseline bony injury rates in historic seasons were women’s cross country (0.57 injuries per 1000 AEH) and men’s cross country (0.32). Compared to historic pre-hiatus rates, female cross-country runners demonstrated a significantly lower bony injury incidence rate in the post-hiatus season (0.24 vs. 0.57, p = 0.016) while male swimming athletes demonstrated a statistically significant increase in bony injury rate (0.09 vs. 0.01, p = 0.015). The proportion of bony injuries attributed to repetitive trauma increased; while, the proportion of injuries attributed to running decreased between the pre- and post-hiatus seasons.

CONCLUSION: Across all sports, there was no consistent trend toward increased rates of bony injury in the immediate post-hiatus season. However, female cross-country runners demonstrated lower rates of bony injury in the post-hiatus season while male swimmers demonstrated higher rates. Furthermore, bony injuries in the post-hiatus season were more likely to be the result of repetitive trauma and less likely to be from running.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, retrospective, cross sectional study.

PMID:37864273 | DOI:10.1186/s13018-023-04282-7

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