The high price of leg injuries in community football
With the AFL season in full swing Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is reminding local clubs and players that injury prevention is the key to participation and keeping healthcare costs to a minimum this season.
Injury data collected over the past 20 years show that lower limb injuries are the most frequent injury occurring at a junior and adult community football level, often at huge financial cost to individuals and the public health system.
SMA spokesperson Dr Alex Donaldson from the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) said leg injuries such as ACL tears or sprained ankles can have a lasting impact on a playerís health and ability to participate in community football and other types of physical activity into the future.
ACL injuries in particular can result in a significant personal and financial cost, with 50 -70 per cent of patients developing osteoarthritis and requiring knee replacements later in life, Dr Donaldson said.
There are around 10,000 ACL tears operated on every year, at an average cost of about $20,000 per knee replacement- if we could reduce the incidence of ACL injuries by 30 per cent through injury prevention programs, we could see a healthcare saving of up to $60 million .
Dr Donaldson said evidence from around the world suggests that many leg injuries, particularly those caused by over exertion, poor landing or changing direction technique, could be prevented through a specifically designed training and exercise program.
Targeted training incorporating structured warm-up, balance training, side-stepping/cutting skills training and jump/landing training which is currently being trialled as part of the NoGAPS (National Guidance for Australian Football Partnerships and Safety) project, are designed be performed by players in 20 minutes at football training twice a week as a replacement for the traditional warm-up, Dr Donaldson said.
We encourage all grassroots clubs to re-vamp their warm-up programs this season to include exercises that are specifically targeted at reducing injury risks.
Even injuries like hamstring and groin strains can result in significant time-loss from participation as well as accounting for hefty medical costs.
At the end of the day, injured players canít contribute to the performance of the team so coaches should re-assess their current warm-up programs and put their playerís lower limbs and the healthcare system first this season.
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