Epidemiology of Hand and Wrist Injuries in NCAA Men’s Football: 2009–2010 to 2013–2014

Douglas W. Bartels, Mario Hevesi, Cody Wyles, Jeffrey Macalena, Sanjeev Kakar, Aaron J. Krych

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Participation in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football is at an all-time high. This population of athletes experiences a substantial injury burden, with many injuries affecting the upper extremities. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of hand and wrist injuries in college football players from the academic years 2009–2010 to 2013–2014. We hypothesized that variables such as event type (practice vs game), mechanism of injury, and player position would have an effect on the injury incidence. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiological study. Methods: An epidemiological study utilizing the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program was performed to investigate rates and patterns of hand and wrist injuries in participating varsity football teams from 2009–2010 to 2013–2014. Results: A total of 725 hand and wrist injuries were captured in 899,225 athlete-exposures. The observed practice injury rate was 0.51 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures, compared with a game injury rate of 3.60 (P <.01). Player-on-player contact was the most common injury mechanism reported, with blocking being the most common activity at the time of injury. Offensive linemen were most likely to experience an injury. Of all injuries sustained, 71.4% resulted in no time loss from competition, whereas 9.8% of injuries resulted in longer than 7 days of time loss. A fracture resulted in the greatest time loss from competition (mean ± SD, 8.3 ± 24.0 days; median, 0 days [range, 0-148 days] for injuries sustained in a practice setting) (mean ± SD, 7.7 ± 15.8 days; median, 0 days [range, 0-87 days] for injuries sustained in a game setting). Conclusion: Hand and wrist injuries were found to be significantly more common in games when compared with practices. This study provides valuable prognostic data regarding expected time loss on a per-injury pattern basis. Further investigation on specific injury subtypes and expected time loss as a result of these injures would provide trainers, players, and coaches with useful information on an expected postinjury recovery and rehabilitation timeline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*Address correspondence to Douglas W. Bartels, MD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA (email: bartels.douglas@mayo.edu) (Twitter: @DougBartelsMD). †Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. ‡Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. One or more of the authors has declared the following potential conflict of interest or source of funding: M.H. has received hospitality payments from DePuy. J.M. has received speaking fees from Smith & Nephew and Arthrex, educational support from Arthrex and Gemini Medical, and honoraria from the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation and Vericel. S.K. has received educational support from Skeletal Dynamics, consulting fees from Skeletal Dynamics and Arthrex, and speaking fees from Arthrex. A.J.K. has received speaking fees from Arthrex, consulting fees from Arthrex and DePuy, educational support from Arthrex, and honoraria from the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation and Vericel. AOSSM checks author disclosures against the Open Payments Database (OPD). AOSSM has not conducted an independent investigation on the OPD and disclaims any liability or responsibility relating thereto. Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board (No. 17-005226).

Funding Information:
This publication contains materials created, compiled, or produced by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, on behalf of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). © 2019 National Collegiate Athletic Association. All rights reserved. The NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (ISP) data were provided by the Datalys Center. The ISP was funded by the NCAA. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Datalys Center or the NCAA. The authors thank the many athletic trainers who have volunteered their time and efforts to submit data to the NCAA ISP. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and have had a tremendously positive effect on the safety of collegiate athletes.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • athlete
  • incidence
  • prevention
  • surveillance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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