Mason Researcher Confirms Benefits of Eyewear Protection for Female Lacrosse Players
In 2005, when it became a requirement for female lacrosse players to wear protective eyewear during the game, Mason researcher Shane Caswell set out to determine the effectiveness of the new change.
In his most recent study, Caswell, associate professor of athletic training and director of the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research and Testing (SMART) Laboratory in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, and his colleagues at MedStar Health Research Institute and the Fairfax County Public Schools found that the new mandate helped to reduce not only the number of eye injuries, but also the number of face and head injuries among players.
Funded by U.S. Lacrosse, the study titled “Effectiveness of the Women’s Lacrosse Protective Eyewear Mandate in the Reduction of Eye Injuries” and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, also compared concussion rates and overall injury rates among female lacrosse players before and after the rule change.
The researchers worked with approximately 9,430 female scholastic lacrosse players in 25 public high schools in Fairfax County, Va. Data was gathered for each of the high schools over a consecutive 10-year period – four years before the mandate (2000-2003) and six years after the mandate (2004-2009).
The researchers observed that the total number of eye injuries decreased from 22 before the mandate to five after the mandate. In addition, head and face injuries also decreased significantly after the eyewear mandate – from 33 injuries to 21 injuries.
One of their concerns, notes Caswell, is that the change in equipment might result in more aggressiveness on the field. However, the researchers found that the mandate did not have this effect because the overall injury rate stayed the same throughout the course of the study.
Surprisingly, there was a significant increase in the rate of concussions among female lacrosse players – 38 concussions occurred before the mandate compared to 86 concussions after the mandate.
Caswell and his colleagues say they aren’t worried about this finding. In fact, he says, the increase may reflect the increased awareness and diagnosis of concussions across all scholastic sports.