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To prospectively observe and compare injury patterns between hypermobile and nonhypermobile NCAA athletes.
Athletes were screened for generalized joint hypermobility before the 1995 lacrosse season. Injuries were recorded through the end of the postseason and compared in hypermobile and nonhypermobile athletes.
A total of 310 male and female volunteers from 17 lacrosse teams participated in the study.
Hypermobility was evaluated with the technique of Carter and Wilkinson (as modified by Beighton and colleagues), which uses 9 joint measurements to assess global joint mobility. For an athlete to be considered hypermobile, 5/9 of these measurements must have been positive. Next, certified athletic trainers prospectively recorded injuries and hours of practice and game participation on a standard form. After the season, all data forms were returned to us for analysis. Significance was set at P = .05, and x² and independent t tests were used to compare injuries between groups.
Twenty of 147 men (13.6%) and 54 of 163 women (33.1%) were hypermobile, yielding an overall hypermobility prevalence of 23.8%. One hundred athletes sustained 134 injuries. There were no significant differences in overall injury rate among hypermobile (2.29/1000 hours) compared with nonhypermobile (3.54/1000 hours) athletes. Nonhypermobile athletes suffered contact injuries at a higher rate (1.38/1000 hours) than hypermobile athletes (0.52/1000 hours). Hypermobile athletes showed an increased rate of ankle injuries, and nonhypermobile athletes showed a trend toward an increased rate of strains. Multiple approaches to analysis of the data revealed no other significant findings.
There was no difference in overall injury rates between hypermobile and nonhypermobile athletes in this sample. This finding is somewhat surprising in light of significant evidence that hypermobility appears to be a factor in joint complaints among nonathletes. Additional research is needed to clearly determine whether a relationship exists between hypermobility and injury rates among athletes.