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Hospital-treated Australian Football injury in women and girls, Victoria, 2010/11-2019/20

      Introduction: Rates of participation for women and girls playing Australian Football at the school, club and professional level in recent years has increased significantly, from 95,000 participants nationally in 2011 to 586,422 in 2019. In 2010, there were 58 female club teams in Victoria, increasing almost 20-fold to 1092 teams in 2019. The dramatic increase in participation has also seen a sharp rise in serious injuries such as concussion, ruptured ACLs and fractured wrists. The study aims to describe the incidence of hospital-treated Australian Football injuries among women and girls aged 5 years and above in Victoria, Australia.
      Methods: Routinely collected Victorian emergency department and hospital admissions data from 2010/11 to 2019/20 will be extracted and analysed. Trends over a ten-year period will be examined, while in-depth analysis will focus on the three most recent years of available data. Records will be restricted to females aged 5 plus years with an ICD-10-AM external cause activity code indicating Australian Football (admissions data), while narrative texts and Australian Football sports code will be used for selection of ED presentation data.
      Results: Outcome measures include frequencies and rates per 100,000 participants for hospital-treated Australian Football injury. Preliminary results: 2509 hospitalisations for women and girls injured while playing Australian Football from 2010/11 to 2019/20; hospitalisations were 94 in 2010/11, increased to 584 in 2018/19 and dropped to 311 in 2019/20 (reflecting limited activity during COVID-19 lockdown). Thirty-four percent (n=859) recorded for females aged 15 to 19 years, followed by 10 to 14 year olds (19%, n=473). Most injuries were to the head (29%, n=727), wrist/hand (24%, n=610) and knee/lower leg (21%, n=521).
      Discussion: It’s anticipated that both the frequency and participation-adjusted rate of hospital-treated female Australian Football injury will have increased over the past 10 years, with the highest increases occurring in more recent years of data. This research pushes the boundaries through the capture of state-wide population-based hospital treated injury cases. The inclusion of descriptive text regarding the circumstances of injury events in the VEMD is a unique feature that can provide valuable information not adequately described by standard health coding systems. The demographic profile and injury description might also provide a basis for injury prevention to curb the injury trend.
      Conflict of interest statement: I acknowledge that I have no conflict of interest of relevance to the submission of this abstract.