Rolling with the Punches: A National Electronic Injury Surveillance System Database Study of Craniofacial Injuries in Boxing

Erin M. Wolfe, Randall G. Pierrot, Benjamin R. Slavin, Ethan L. Plotsker, Georges J. Samaha, Kriya Gishen, Seth R. Thaller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction:Boxing is a popular combat sport in which competitors may sustain high impact blows to the face. For this reason, they are at high risk for craniofacial injuries; however, data on facial injuries specific to boxing remains sparse. Studies on safety measures, such as headgear, to prevent such injuries in boxing have been inconclusive. Boxing is popular with a wide audience. However, there is no consensus on safety measures across different populations involved in boxing due to lack of data. The objective of this study is to characterize the demography and incidence of injury types of patients presenting to emergency departments with boxing-related craniofacial injuries on a national scale in order to facilitate the establishment of evidence-based safety guidelines for prevention of boxing-related injuries.Methods:The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database was searched for boxing-related craniofacial injuries from the last 10 years (2010-2019). Injuries involving boxing were isolated and organized into 5-year age groups. Information on demographics and injury type was extracted from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database. Statistical analysis was performed between different age and gender groups.Results:A total of 749 boxing-related craniofacial injuries treated in US emergency departments between 2010 and 2019 were recorded. The 19 to 34-year-old age group had the highest number of cases (54%), followed by the 12 to 18-year-old age group (31%). The most common injury types within both of these age groups were concussions and lacerations. This difference was found to be significant when compared to other craniofacial injury types (P < 0.05). The majority of athletes in these age groups were male (93% and 91%, respectively). Analysis of sex differences demonstrated concussions were more common in females compared to other injury types, whereas lacerations in males were more common compared to other injury types; these differences were found to be significant (P < 0.05).Conclusions:The high incidence of boxing-related craniofacial injuries such as concussions and lacerations incurred in young adults (19-34 years) and adolescents (12-18 years) indicate that protective measures such as community-based safety interventions and revised guidelines for protective equipment may be indicated in these groups to protect against craniofacial injuries such as lacerations and concussions. Further studies are required to develop algorithms for management of boxing-related craniofacial injuries and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of protective equipment such as boxing headgear on concussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1576-1580
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Boxing
  • craniofacial injuries
  • facial trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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