Did you know sports injuries cause around 36,000 Australians a year to have a hospital stay? But whether it’s football, wheeled motor sports or cycling that’s most dangerous depends on how you look at it.
When it comes to injuries sustained from sport that are bad enough to have you hospitalised, which sports are the riskiest?
It depends on how you look at it, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) suggests.
The various forms of football are responsible for the largest proportion of the total number of sports-related injuries in Australia requiring hospitalisation – nearly a third.
And of the football codes, Australian Rules and soccer had the highest population-based rates of injury hospitalisation, with 18 and 17 cases per 100,000 population respectively.
So is this justification for those who worry when the men in their life – and it is mostly males – play football? Perhaps not.
The finding is more a reflection of the large numbers of people who play football, rather than it being inherently the most dangerous.
When the number of participants is factored in, wheeled motor sports, such as motorcycling and go-carting, appear riskier with more than 3,500 hospitalisations per 100,000 participants.
This was followed by roller sports, such as roller skating and skateboarding, with more than 2,000 hospitalisations per 100,000 participants.
Roller sports had almost double the injury rate of Australian Rules and rugby, which had 1,319 and 1,292 hospitalisations per 100,000 participants respectively.
The ups and downs of sport
But injury researcher and AIHW spokesman Professor James Harrison says the findings need to be kept in perspective and aren’t in themselves a reason to stop playing any of the sports.
“There are very good reasons to engage in sport. Sport’s fun and a really good way to get fit and stay fit,” says Harrison, director of the Research Centre for Injury Studies at Flinders University.
He also points out that the apparent riskiness of wheeled motor sports might be exaggerated somewhat because of problems with the way the data used in the analysis was collected.
“Motor sports come out very high. I suspect part of that’s just to do with the roughness of the information [collected] in hospitals.”
When it comes to the severity of injuries you might sustain, three sports stand out. Cycling, motor sports and equestrian activities had a particularly high proportion of more severe injuries, with about one quarter of cases considered to be life-threatening.
But wheeled motor sports was the activity that accounted for the highest total number of days spent by patients in hospital – over 9,500 days.
The report showed that those suffering sporting injuries were overwhelmingly under 35 and mostly men.
The most commonly affected body region was the knee and lower leg and the most common diagnosis was a fracture.
|Type of sport||Number of cases||Percentage|
|Australian Rules football||3,186||8.8|
|Football, other and unspecified||2,821||7.8|
|Wheeled motor sports||2,737||7.6|
|Water sports (individual and team)||2,143||5.9|
Source: Australian Sports Injury Hospitalisations 2011-12 (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare)