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Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Mar 15;161(6):511-9.

Use of discretionary protective equipment and rate of lower extremity injury in high school athletes.

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  • 1Department of Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. jingzhen-yang@uiowa.edu


Use of protective equipment is an important sports injury prevention strategy, yet use of protective equipment by high school athletes has seldom been studied. The authors analyzed data from a 3-year (1996-1999), stratified, two-stage cluster sample of athletes from 12 organized sports in 100 North Carolina high schools (n = 19,728 athlete-seasons). Information on each athlete's use of protective equipment and prior injury was collected during the preseason. Prospective information on injuries and weekly participation in games and practices was collected during the playing season. Use of lower extremity discretionary protective equipment tended to decrease the overall rate of lower extremity injury (rate ratio (RR) = 0.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72, 1.15). However, this slight protective effect was entirely due to kneepad use (for knee injury, RR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.27, 0.74). Knee brace use and ankle brace use were associated with increased rates of knee injury (RR = 1.61, 95% CI: 1.08, 2.41) and ankle injury (RR = 1.74, 95% CI: 1.11, 2.72), respectively. This could be due to slippage of the brace during use, increased fatigue due to the energy cost of wearing a brace, or bias in the study. Further investigation into the effects of brace use is warranted.

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