Background Injury registration is a necessary first step of injury prevention research in sports. However, inconsistencies in injury definitions and recording methods may have contributed to discrepancies in injury rates reported. Previous studies have traditionally been based on injury reporting by team medical staff.
Objective To evaluate a novel methodology employing text messaging (SMS) by players to record injuries, comparing it to routine injury registration by team medical staff.
Design Prospective study.
Methods All teams in the Norwegian elite female football league (N=12, 205 players) reported injuries and exposure in training and matches throughout the 2009 football season (April-November). For the individual registration, we used a new SMS tracking system; all players received three messages once weekly with questions on exposure and injuries. Players reporting time-loss injuries were contacted to complete an injury form through a telephone interview. A designated member of the team medical staff also recorded injuries and team exposure throughout the season.
Results We compared data from teams with complete registrations (n=9, 159 players). A total of 232 time-loss injuries were reported; 62% were recorded by individual registration only, 28% by both methods, and 10% by medical staff only. Knee injuries dominated (26%), but only 41% were captured through medical staff reports. The most frequent injury type was ligament injuries (22%), of which 38% were reported by the medical staff. Of the severe injuries (absence >28 days), 31 (50%) were identified from medical staff reports.
Discussion The medical staff reports underestimated the incidence of time-loss injuries by two-thirds in our setting, which emphasises the importance of individual registration to increase the accuracy of injury incidence in team sports.
Conclusion A new method employing text messaging by players to record injuries gave a more complete picture of injuries to elite female football players than team medical staff registration.