New research from the Department of Orthopedics at the New York University Langone Health confirms that headgear worn during women’s lacrosse practices and games can reduce the rate of head and face injuries, as well as concussions.

"There has been continued controversy regarding whether or not headgear use in women's lacrosse will increase or decrease the rate of head injuries," Dr. Samuel L. Baron, the lead researcher, said in a press release published by the American Orthopedics Society of Sports Medicine. In 2017, the Public Schools Athletic League of New York City became the first high school organization in the country to mandate ASTM standard F3137 headgear for all women's lacrosse players. 

For the study, researchers set up a prospective cohort that included eight varsity and junior varsity women's lacrosse teams, as well as their game opponents, who were mandated to wear F3137 headgear for all practice and game events over the course of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. 

Certified athletic trainers assessed and documented all injuries that occurred as a result of participation on the lacrosse teams, and athlete exposures were estimated based on the number of team practice and game events. Injury rates were compared with those from the High School RIO (Reporting Information Online) injury data reports from the 2009 to 2016 seasons.

Over the course of the study, 17 total injuries were reported during 22,397 exposures for an injury rate of 0.76 injuries per 1,000 athlete-exposures. Two head/face injuries, both of which were classified as concussions, were reported during the study for a head/face injury rate and concussion rate of 0.09 per 1,000 athlete-exposures. The headgear cohort demonstrated significant decreases in rates of head/face injury in-game concussion and practice non-head/face injury when compared to the control cohort.

Researchers concluded that mandated use of F3137 headgear was shown to be effective at lowering the rate of head or face injury and concussions in women's lacrosse. Additionally, mandated headgear use was also shown to lower the rate of injury to body locations other than the head or face during practice.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.