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Prevalence of head injury and medically diagnosed concussion in junior-level community-based Australian Rules Football

Hecimovich, M.D. and King, D. (2016) Prevalence of head injury and medically diagnosed concussion in junior-level community-based Australian Rules Football. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 53 (3). pp. 246-251.

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Aim: For junior-level Australian Rules Football there is a paucity of head injury and concussion surveillance data; thus, the primary aim was to document head injury and concussion incidence in participants aged 9–17 years with a secondary aim to identify the mechanism-of-injury.

Methods: A prospective cohort study in which a designated representative for each of the 41 teams recorded on a weekly basis the number of head injuries suspected of being a concussion, diagnosed concussions and the mechanism-of-injury during competition games over the course of a 12-game season. For analysis three groups were formed – number of Player-Seasons, Athlete-Exposures, head injury and concussion incidence per 1000 Athlete-Exposures – and were calculated. Narrative data was categorised.

Results: There was 13 reported head injuries resulting in seven concussions in the sample population (n = 976). The incidence rates for head injury and concussion were 1.1 (95% confidence interval: 0.5–1.7) and 0.59 (95% confidence interval: 0.2–1.0) per 1000 Athlete-Exposures. There were four head injuries resulting in two concussions in the 12–13-year-old group and nine head injuries and five concussions in the 14–17-year-old group. Two categories emerged for mechanism-of-injury: player-to-surface and player-to-player, with 9 of the 13 head injuries resulting from player-to-player contact.

Conclusions: The incidence rates were similar in the two older groups and lower in comparison with American football and rugby. The data collected have advanced our knowledge of head injury incidence and established baseline data which to compare in future years and may assist in development of preventative measures.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2016 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
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