Background Head and neck injuries are a collision sport concern, however there is a lack of Rugby-7s injury data, particularly in emerging Rugby nations.
Objective To determine the head, neck, and face (HNF) match injury rates and characteristics in US Rugby-7s.
Design Prospective descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting USA Rugby-sanctioned tournaments/series and championships (2010–2016).
Participants 42,054 adult U.S. players (3,481 teams and 7,673 Rugby-7s matches).
Assessment of Risk Factors Match injury rates, site, type, and severity.
Main measurement outcome Incidence (per 1000 player-hour (ph)), severity and details of mechanisms were captured using Rugby Injury Survey & Evaluation (RISE) report methodology. All-injuries (medical-attention and time-loss) and time-loss injuries were defined. Days (d) absent before return-to-training/competition (including post-tournament) were recorded.
Results A total of 498 HNF injuries were encountered (all-injury rate=16.7/1000ph; men=17.3/1000ph; women=15.5/1000ph; IRR:1.1; CI:0.9–1.4). Head/face was the most commonly injured site (all-injuries=90.8%; time-loss=86.8%) followed by neck/cervical spine (all-injuries=9.2%; time-loss=13.2%). Concussions were the most common type of injury (36.7%; 6.1/1000ph) followed by facial lacerations (28.7%; 4.8/1000ph). Incidence of concussions was similar between sexes (IRR:1.0; CI:0.7–1.3). Longer return-to-sport were seen among women (46.4d) than men (32.1d; P=0.047) post-concussion. Scalp/face lacerations were more common among men than women (IRR:2.5; CI:1.6–4.1; P<0.001). Time-loss injuries occurred similarly among men and women (IRR:1.5; CI:1.0–2.6; P=0.061). HNF injury severity was similar between sexes (29.3±32.4 days absent from play). The tackle (71.5%) was the most common injury event. Men sustained HNF injuries mostly with direct contact with another player (IRR:1.3; CI:1.0–1.7; P=0.023), while women were injured with impact with the playing surface (IRR:1.8; CI:1.0–3.2; P=0.032).
Conclusions Incidence of HNF injuries were similar between sexes among U.S. rugby-7s players. Sex differences with concussion severity and contact mechanism of HNF injuries were seen between sexes. Recognition of HNF injury patterns and sex differences will allow for a more effective injury prevention plan in this emerging U.S. collision sport.
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