Study finds that requiring protective headgear actually increased concussion risk for female lacrosse players

 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
April 30, 2018
Written by American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
Daniel Herman, MD, PhD presented a research abstract at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Lake Buena Vista, FL indicating that the rates of concussions and musculoskeletal injuries may have increased with the use of protective headgear in High School Girls Lacrosse.

Concerns regarding player safety led the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) to mandate the use of protective headgear, such as soccer headguards, during Girls' Lacrosse play. Dr. Herman led a study comparing the rates of concussion and musculoskeletal injuries in girls' lacrosse players before and after the implementation of statewide protective headgear mandate.

"The debate on using protective headgear has seemingly grown as fast as the sport itself. It is critical that research of this nature be performed so we can made informed decisions regarding these issues on play safety."

The study examined data for girls' lacrosse players in Florida for the three years prior and three years after the implementation of the headgear mandate in 2015. Researchers also looked at similar data during the same time frame for boys' lacrosse to help assess for changes in injury recording or reporting over the same time period.

For girls' lacrosse, the years after the new helmet rule went into effect had significantly greater frequency of both concussions and musculoskeletal injuries compared to the years before players wore helmets. But there were no significant differences in concussions or other injuries in boys' lacrosse during the same time period.

Researchers indicate the use of greater amounts of protective headgear in girls' high school lacrosse may result in an elevated risk of injury, potentially via increased aggressiveness of play with the use of protective gear.

The use of protective headgear in girls' high school lacrosse may result in unintended effects on injury risk, and further monitoring of injury rates using large data sets is needed to verify these findings.

"The findings underscore the importance of continuing to study the effects of FHSAA's policy, which as of this season mandates the use of a hard-shell helmet. Everyone is for better player safety, but 'more' may not equate to 'better'."

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