Background Prevention of injury and illness in elite sport can have not only athlete health benefits but also potential positive performance gains. As the first step towards prevention, valid injury/illness surveillance data is needed.
Objective Develop and implement a valid and sensitive multisport surveillance model for elite sport in Great Britain, to identify incidence, severity, nature, and risk factors for injury/illness in both individual and team sports.
Design A longitudinal prospective surveillance study, with definitions for injury/illness, time loss and restriction severity, and implementation practices, was developed by the research group, and methodology framework modified from recent injury surveillance consensus statements to be applicable for individual and team sports.
Setting National training centres for elite sport in Great Britain, including domestic and international competition venues.
Participants National team lottery funded athletes from identified sport national governing bodies.
Interventions Report forms recording all athlete injuries/illnesses causing complete time loss or restricted participation in competition or training are completed by medical support staff, and competition and training exposure by coaching support staff. Data collection commenced pre season 2009/2010 and is ongoing.
Main outcome measure Sport specific injury incidence and illness prevalence, time loss and restriction severity, and risk factors for the most common and severe injuries/illnesses.
Results 14 Olympic sports are involved in the surveillance study. Sport specific results reports on injury incidence, illness prevalence, and associated risk factors are being produced, with targeted sport specific recommendations for prevention strategies.
Conclusion The injury/illness performance project provides objective information to medical and coaching support staff, and elite sports are starting to implement prevention interventions for key risk factors. The long term aim is to reduce the number and severity athlete injuries/illnesses, the detrimental effects of time loss and restriction in competition and training, and ultimately through this enhance athlete performance.
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