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The surprising facts about sports and injuries

16 September 2019 Blog
Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Peter Campbell busts the myths and highlights the facts about injuries in sports that need hospital care and the data might just surprise you.

Fact: Men are more likely to injure themselves playing sport than women

This one is true. The statistics show that over three quarters of people who go to hospital due to a sports injury are men. This could in part be a result of more men playing sport than women, but we don’t have data to confirm that.

Myth: Contact injuries are the biggest cause of sporting injury

This one is a myth. Despite the hard hits that we often see on football and rugby fields, and indeed on netball courts, the number one cause of injury in sports isn’t contact with other people.

Falls accounts for the biggest cause of injury, followed by injuries relating to bicycles, motorised vehicles and horses, and then contact with another person.

There is also a fair proportion of people who injure themselves as a result of overexertion.

Fact: Broken bones are the most common injury caused by sport

The most common reason we find that people come to hospital for sporting injuries is to care for a broken bone.

The stats show that soft tissue injuries come in second to broken bones.

Sometimes broken bones, and soft tissue injuries, need care from a specialist orthopaedic surgeon. You can find an orthopaedic surgeon, including specialist surgeons who are experts in sports injuries, who works at a St John of God Health Care hospital through our Find a specialist search.

Don’t forget about the head

While broken legs, arms, wrists and hands are the most common places for fractures that are caused by sports injuries, we shouldn’t forget about heads.

The data shows that about 10 per cent of fractures relate to head injuries.

Myth: Non-contact sports are safer

This is a big myth. While we do see plenty of injuries in people playing sports like AFL, rugby and netball, non-contact sports can also result in injury.

In fact, the second most common sport that people take part in when they are injure themselves is cycling, while water sports, motor sports and equestrian sports, all result in injury.

The biggest injury in all of those sports was fractures. Cycling, wheeled motor sports and equestrian activities all had the highest proportion of injuries with a high threat to life.

If you hurt yourself playing sport, remember you can attend your nearest Emergency Department, or for less severe injuries, you can get a referral from your GP to see one of our orthopaedic surgeons for expert care.

All data taken from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australian sports injury hospitalisations report 2011/2012 

Peter Campbell - Orthopaedic Surgeon
Mr Peter Campbell is the Head of Orthopaedics at St John of God Subiaco Hospital and works exclusively in shoulder surgery.