OBJECTIVE: To assess prospectively the incidence, nature, and severity of injuries to polo riders competing in the 1996 Argentine High Polo season. METHODS: Assessment, documentation, and provision of care for all injuries sustained during the 1996 season by one of the authors. Riders were also surveyed retrospectively for their previous polo injuries. RESULTS: 34 riders took part in the study. Nine injuries were sustained prospectively and 55 injuries were reviewed retrospectively (64 total). The injuries were categorised as minor (10), moderate (13), and major (41). Twenty five (39%) injuries occurred in the arms, 20 (31%) in the legs, 12 (19%) in the head, 3 (5%) in the back, and 4 (6%) in the face. A fracture occurred in 25 (39%) injuries as most resulted from a fall from the horse. Additionally, facial lacerations occurred prospectively in five riders but did not result in missed play. An overall injury rate of 7.8/1000 player-game hours was calculated. CONCLUSIONS: Although many sports have injury rates much greater than 8/1000 player-game hours, the severity of most injuries occurring in polo was classified as major, with fractures and facial lacerations common. The use of a helmet with a face protector is recommended to decrease injury to players. A doctor experienced in the management of serious trauma should be present at all polo matches.
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