The objective of this study was to describe shoulder injuries in a nationally representative sample of high school athletes playing 9 sports. A national estimate of shoulder injuries among high school athletes was subsequently calculated.


Injury data were collected in 9 sports (boys’ football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, and baseball; girls’ soccer, volleyball, basketball, and softball) during the 2005–2006 through 2011–2012 academic years from a nationally representative sample of high schools via High School Reporting Information Online.


During the 2005–2006 through 2011–2012 academic years, high school athletes in this study sustained 2798 shoulder injuries during 13 002 321 athlete exposures, for an injury rate of 2.15 per 10 000 athlete exposures. This corresponds to a nationally estimated 820 691 injuries during this time period. Rates of injury were higher in competition as compared with practice (rate ratio = 3.17 [95% confidence interval: 2.94–3.41]). The highest rate of injury was in football (4.86) and the lowest in girls’ soccer (0.42). The most common types of injury were strain/sprain (37.9%) and dislocation/separation (29.2%). Boys were more likely than girls to sustain their injuries after contact with another person or with the playing surface. Surgical repair was required for 7.9% of the injuries. Time loss from athletic participation varied among sports, with 40.7% of athletes returning within 1 week, whereas 8.2% were medically disqualified for their season/career.


High school shoulder injury rates and patterns varied by sport and gender. Prospective epidemiologic surveillance is warranted to discern trends and patterns to develop evidence-based interventions to prevent shoulder injuries.

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