To determine if injury rates among female field hockey players differ before and after implementation of a national mandate for protective eyewear (MPE).
We analyzed girls’ field hockey exposure and injury data collected from national (High School Reporting Information Online [RIO]) and regional (Fairfax County Public Schools) high school sports injury databases in 2 seasons before (2009/10 and 2010/11) and 2 seasons after (2011/12 and 2012/13) a national MPE.
The incidence of eye/orbital injuries was significantly higher in states without MPE (0.080 injuries per 1000 athletic exposures [AEs]) than in states with MPE (before the 2011/12 mandate) and the postmandate group (0.025 injuries per 1000 AEs) (odds ratio 3.20, 95% confidence interval 1.47–6.99, P = .003). There was no significant difference in concussion rates for the 2 groups (odds ratio 0.77, 95% confidence interval 0.58–1.02, P = .068). After the 2011/12 MPE, severe eye/orbital injuries (time loss >21 days) were reduced by 67%, and severe/medical disqualification head/face injuries were reduced by 70%. Concussion rates for field hockey (0.335 per 1000 AEs) rank third among girls’ sports included in the High School RIO surveillance program.
Among female high school field hockey players, MPE is associated with a reduced incidence of eye/orbital injuries and fewer severe eye/orbital and head/face injuries. Concussion rates did not change as a result of the national MPE. Concussion remains the most common injury involving the head and face among female field hockey players, prompting further inquiry into potential effects of adopting protective headgear/helmets.