More children suffer head injuries playing recreational sport than team sport

Study finds children who do recreational sports like bike riding are more likely to suffer serious head injuries than children who play contact sport like AFL or rugby.

Media Release:

An Australian/ New Zealand study examining childhood head injuries has found that children who do recreational sports like horse riding, skate boarding and bike riding are more likely to suffer serious head injuries* than children who play contact sport like AFL or rugby.

Research**, conducted by the PREDICT research network, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), published on Wiley and soon to be published in the Australian Medical Journal, examined the data of 8,857 children presenting with head injuries to ten emergency departments in Australian and New Zealand hospitals.

A third of the children, who were aged between five and 18 years, injured themselves playing sport. Of these children four out of five were boys.

Lead research author, MCRI’s Professor Franz Babl, says the team looked at ‘íntracranial’ injuries in children because while there is a lot of interest about sport and concussion, less is understood about the severity of head injuries children suffer while playing sport.

“The study found that in children who presented to the emergency departments after head injury and participated in recreational sports like horse riding, skate boarding and bike riding were more likely to sustain serious head injuries than children who played contact sport like AFL, rugby, soccer or basketball,” he says.

“We found that 45 of the 3,177 sports-related head injuries were serious and classified as clinically important Traumatic Brain Injury (ciTBI), meaning the patient required either neuro-surgery, at least two nights in hospital and/or being placed on a breathing machine. One child died as a result of head injuries.”

Prof Babl says that the sports which resulted in the most frequent reason for presentation to emergency departments included bike riding (16 per cent), rugby (13 per cent), AFL (10 per cent), other football (9 per cent), and soccer (8 per cent).

The most frequent causes of serious injury included bike riding (44 per cent), skateboarding (18 per cent), horse riding (16 per cent), with AFL and rugby resulting in one serious head injury each and soccer resulting none.

A total of 524 patients with sports-related head injuries (16 per cent) needed CT imaging, and 14 children required surgery.

What is Aussie Rules Football?

aussie rules

Australian Rules Football is the main sporting code played in Australia and it is big business. All the players are professionals and considerable money is involved in the game.

The objective of Aussie Rules is to outscore the other team in total points. These points are tallied by summing the main goal (worth 6 factors) scored, and also the behinds (worth 1 factor) added up. A goal is scored by kicking [punting] the ball (comparable to a Football) through 2 upright blog posts. The ball has to come off the foot of a player. So no throwing or punching it with– it has to be kicked through. A behind is scored if the ball is touched by any individual, or is kicked through the smaller sized articles on either side of the goal messages.

The ball can be moved around the ground by either: running with it, kicking [punting] the ball, or handpassing (punching with a closed fist). Tossing or throwing the ball is not allowed..

A player running with the ball remains in open play. He may be tackled with by any person from the opposing team. A tackle with generally implies finishing up the player on the ground, like in rugby, but can be like a great ole American-style ‘hit’. If a player is tackled, he needs to make an instant effort to throw away the round (legitimately– no tossing currently). If he hangs on to the ball throughout a tackle (like as in rugby), he is considered ‘holding the ball’ and the tackler gets a free kick. Currently, on the other hand, it is illegal to deal with a player without the ball. So, if a player does get rid of the ball during a tackle, the tackler has to promptly release.

A player can kick the ball in any direction (but of course, the objective is to get it to your goal). If a player from either team marks [gets] the ball from a kick, he might take an un-obstructed kick from that spot.

The other method of passing the ball is to handpass, or punch, the ball. However unlike noting [getting] a kicked round, receiving a handpass does not give you an un-obstructed free-kick.

Australian Rules Football is the main sporting code played in Australia and it is big business. All the players are professionals and considerable money is involved in the game.

One thing that the AFL really is seen as a model around the world is the involvement of sports medicine and sports science in the way its used to get the best out of each player. Even Podiatrists in the AFL are recognized as a model of their involvement with professional sports teams.