Background: Netball has maintained a reputation as a high-risk sport for injuries. Understanding netball injuries and how these may change over time can help evaluate existing injury prevention strategies, while providing information to support future efforts. This study provides a longitudinal evaluation of Australian netball injuries via a national register of insurance claims.
Methods: Insurance records for netball player insurance claims in Australia from 2011 to 2019 were obtained. The age, date, activity (i.e. match/training), anatomical location, surface/weather conditions, and the quarter of injury were extracted. Anatomical location and type of injury were coded using OSICS-10, and reported as frequencies and proportions of total injuries. The relative odds (RO) (± 95% confidence intervals) of claims being made within descriptive categories (i.e. age, quarter, court setting, court type, activity type and weather) across anatomical injury locations and types were calculated.
Results: 12,205 injuries were identified. The majority of claims were for knee (n=5,006; 41.0%), ankle (n=3,875; 31.7%) and wrist/hand (n=1,127; 9.2%) injuries. Joint injuries (n=7,017; 57.5%) and fractures (n=1,788; 14.6%) were the most common injury types. For anatomical location and type together, knee and ankle joint injuries were the most common (n=4,027; 33.2% and n=2,618; 21.6%, respectively), followed by wrist fractures (n=830; 6.8%) and ankle tendon (n=750; 6.2%) injuries. The proportion of injuries across anatomical location and type remained stable over time. Knee and joint injuries had a higher probability of coming from 15-17 (RO=1.043 [1.018,1.068] and RO=1.036 [1.018,1.054], respectively) and 18-24 (RO=1.034 [1.010,1.059] and RO=1.052 [1.034,1.070], respectively) year age groups. Lower leg (e.g. calf) injuries had a higher probability of occurring in the 35-44 year age group (RO=1.453 [1.315,1.601]). Head injuries had a higher probability of a concrete court description (RO=1.135 [1.013,1.266]) and coming from the 10-14 year age group (RO=1.136 [1.008,1.274]).
Discussion: The prominence of knee and ankle joint injuries suggests national netball injury prevention strategies should remain focused on this area. Certain injuries were more likely to include specific descriptors (i.e. knee joint injuries in 15-24 year olds; lower leg injuries in 35-44 year olds; head injuries in 10-14 year olds and on concrete courts). Tailoring injury prevention strategies towards these may be an impactful way to reduce the nation-wide netball injury burden.
Conflict of interest statement: My co-authors and I acknowledge that we have no conflict of interest relevant to the submission of this abstract.