Comparison of Volleyball-Related Injuries at US Emergency Departments Between High School and Collegiate Athletes: A 10-Year NEISS Database Study

Claire B. Sandler, Clare K. Green*, John P. Scanaliato, Alexis B. Sandler, John C. Dunn, Nata Parnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: There is a paucity of current data regarding the sport-specific injury patterns and epidemiological trends associated with volleyball. Purpose: To provide an updated, comparative assessment of the epidemiology of volleyball-related injuries among female high school– and college-aged athletes and to characterize the burden of these injuries on emergency departments (EDs) across the United States. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiological study. Methods: Data were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for volleyball-related injuries between 2012 and 2021 in high school–aged (14-18 years) and college-aged (19-23 years) patients. Incidence, injury characteristics, incident locales, and dispositions were analyzed with weighted population statistics based on National Federation of State High School Associations and National Collegiate Athletic Association data as well as incidence rates and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% CIs. Results: In total, an estimated 214,302 female athletes aged 14 to 23 years were evaluated in EDs across the United States with volleyball-related injuries between 2012 and 2021. Female college-aged athletes were nearly 3 times more likely to be evaluated with these injuries than their high school–aged counterparts, with incidence rates of 12.8 per 100 at-risk individuals among college-aged athletes and 4.3 per 100 at-risk individuals in high school–aged athletes (IRR, 0.338; 95% CI, 0.333-0.342). The ankle, head, and knee were most frequently injured, often involving strains/sprains, contusions, fractures, and concussions. The IRRs of nearly all injuries were higher among collegiate athletes, especially among knee (IRR, 4.56; 95% CI, 4.40-4.72) and shoulder (IRR, 5.07; 95% CI, 4.81-5.35) injuries. Conclusion: Among volleyball-related injuries evaluated in EDs between 2012 and 2021, the incidence rates of injuries in college-aged athletes far surpassed those of their high school–aged peers irrespective of injury type or bodily location. While sprains and strains were the most frequent injuries, head injuries accounted for the second most common diagnosis in both groups, suggesting that clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for concussion when evaluating players.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • NCAA
  • epidemiology
  • high school
  • volleyball


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