Epidemiology of Achilles tendon injuries in collegiate level athletes in the United States

Jimmy J. Chan, Kevin K. Chen, Salman Sarker, Rohit Hasija, Hsin Hui Huang, Javier Z. Guzman, Ettore Vulcano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Achilles injuries are devastating injuries, especially for competitive athletes. No studies have examined the outcomes of Achilles injuries in NCAA athletes. Therefore, a better characterization and understanding of the epidemiology is crucial. Methods: Achilles injuries across 16 sports among NCAA men and women during the 2004–2005 to 2013–2014 academic years were analyzed using the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (NCAA-ISP). Achilles tendon injury rate (IR) per 100,000 athlete-exposures (AEs), operative rate, annual injury rate trends, reinjury rates, mechanism of injury, in-season status (pre/regular/post season), and time loss distributions were compiled and calculated. A sub-analysis of comparing gender and injury mechanism was also performed for both all injuries and severe injuries. Results: Overall, N = 255 Achilles injuries were identified with an injury rate (IR) of 2.17 (per 100,000 AEs). These injuries occurred most often in women’s gymnastics (IR = 16.73), men’s basketball (IR = 4.26), and women’s basketball (IR = 3.32), respectively. N = 52 injuries were classified as severe injuries which have higher median time loss (48 days) and higher operative rate (65.4%). For severe Achilles injuries, female athletes had higher operative (77.8% vs. 58.8%) and higher time loss compared to male athletes (96 days vs. 48 days). Contact mechanisms were associated with a higher season-ending injury rate. Conclusion: Overall, 20.4% of Achilles injuries were considered severe with 65.6% operative rate. About 73.1% were season-ending injuries, and the remaining athletes have a median time loss of 48 days. Severe Achilles injuries create significant impact on playing time and career for NCAA athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-594
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Orthopaedics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Achilles injury
  • NCAA
  • SAS


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