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.
- Achilles injury