Makenzie Hoyt, Lyndsey Darden, Katie Stovall, Jeremiah Lukers. Truett McConnell University, Cleveland, GA.

BACKGROUND: Knee injuries occur frequently within contact sports like collegiate soccer. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has implemented an Injury Surveillance Program (ISP) for all sports divisions (Division I to Division III) to track injuries and athlete-exposures (AEs) for regular season practices and games. Recent knee injury data from the NCAA ISP compared to one NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) soccer program (Truett McConnell University (TMU)) offered injury rate insight. The purpose of this study was to identify knee injury rates among NCAA and NAIA women’s soccer AEs, compare injury trends, and encourage the implementation of knee injury prevention programs among all collegiate levels of play. METHODS: An epidemiological study investigated knee injuries on the women’s soccer team at TMU from the 2016/17 to 2021/22 regular season. The study identified incidence rate ratio (IRR) and odds ratio (OR); and, compared data to a recent NCAA ISP knee injury literature review from the 2014/15-2018/19 regular seasons. The NCAA and NAIA levels included varying surveillance procedures among the injury trends. IRR was calculated by finding the total number of knee injuries divided by the total number of AEs. OR was calculated by finding the probability of injured to uninjured women's soccer athletes. RESULTS: There was a significant difference (p < 0.05) between the NAIA soccer program and the NCAA soccer programs. The overall injury rate among NCAA knee injuries was higher (1.44/1,000 AEs) compared to the IRR for NAIA (1.39/1,000 AEs). The overall OR in knee injuries for NCAA was only at 2.36%; yet, an increasingly significant difference was found in the NAIA statistics with an OR of 16.53%. NAIA injury rates had a +14.17% compared to the NCAA. The most prevalent knee injuries in the NAIA program AEs were patellar tendonitis injuries and ACL injuries. CONCLUSIONS: Women’s collegiate soccer had an elevated risk of knee injuries at both the NCAA and NAIA levels, with NAIA at a higher risk. The results from this study highlight the need for revised injury prevention methods throughout the regular season.

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