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CONTEXT: In March 2020, public health concerns resulted in school closure throughout the United States. The prolonged sport cessation may affect knee injury risk in high school athletes. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare risk of knee injuries in high school athletes during 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, and stratify by gender, severity, mechanism of injury, injury type, and knee anatomic region. DESIGN: Historical-prospective cohort study. METHODS: This historical-prospective cohort study included 176 schools in 6 states matched by sport participation in control and COVID years from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021. Injury rates per 1000 athletes per year were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. A negative binomial regression was performed to assess potential differences in knee injuries between academic years. RESULTS: 94,847 and 72,521 high school athletes participated in the 2019-2020 (19-20) and 2020-2021 (20-21) seasons. Knee injury risk was higher in the 20-21 season (19-20: 28.89% [27.82-29.96]; 20-21: 33.82% [32.50-35.14]). Risk increased for male athletes from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 (19-20: 29.42% [28.01-30.83]; 20-21: 40.32% [38.89-41.75]). Female knee injury risk was similar between years (19-20: 25.78% [24.29-27.27]; 20-21: 26.03% [24.31-27.75]). Knee injuries increased by a ratio of 1.2 ([95% CI, 1.1-1.3], P < .001) during 2020-2021. CONCLUSIONS: Knee injury risk and relative risk increased among males in 2020-2021. Results indicate changes in knee injury risk following return from COVID shelter in place among high school athletes and implicate potential negative downstream effects of interrupted sports training and participation on high school injury risk.

Original publication




Journal article


J sport rehabil

Publication Date





225 - 230


anterior cruciate ligament, epidemiology, injury burden, meniscus, return to play, Humans, Adolescent, Knee Injuries, Male, Female, Prospective Studies, Athletic Injuries, United States, Schools, Risk Factors, Athletes, COVID-19, Sex Factors