School injuries occurring in a municipal school system during a 2-year period were reviewed to identify epidemiologic features of school injuries, to determine data requirements for ongoing injury surveillance, and to identify potential preventive strategies. Overall, 3,009 injuries were reported (2.82/100 students per year). Elementary school students had only a slightly higher rate (2.85) than secondary school students (2.78). However, the cause, nature, school location of injury, and body area injured formed distinct patterns in these two groups. Playgrounds were responsible for the highest overall and elementary school rates, whereas sports areas and classrooms had the highest rates among secondary school students. Falls were the most frequent cause of injury in elementary schools whereas, as expected, sports injuries were the most frequent cause among secondary school students. Contusions and abrasions of the head were the most frequent type of injury for both groups, although more common among elementary school students, whereas fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations were more frequent among secondary school students. Although the proportion of severe injuries to secondary school students was slightly higher (39 v 35%), the rate of referral of students to a hospital or physicians among secondary school students (1.21 per 100 student-hours) was almost twice the rate of elementary school students (0.65 per 100 student-hours). Problems with definition of injury severity and the need to explore the social aspects of schools as a factor in injuries emerged as important considerations for future research.

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