A multi-sport event poses a different variety of problems for a medical team, when compared to tournaments of specific sports, due to the diverse range of injuries that occur. There is a lot of data about injury rates in specific sports, but data on epidemiology of medical problems at multi-sports events is limited.
Our aim was to research the injuries that occur during multi-sport tournaments, by performing a prospective cross-sectional data collection study, as the medical team covering Team GB for the European Maccabi Games 2011. We collected injury profile statistics in relation to the sport played, age of patient, ‘type’ of injury sustained, anatomical location and severity (absence from training or match).
230 athletes had 88 medical encounters over the tournament, which compromised 1405 ‘player-hours’ of sport. This means the general injury rate was 62.6 injuries per 1000 hours of sport played.
Our data found that the majority of injuries sustained at multi-sport tournaments were muscle and tendon injuries, with 52/88 (59%) of our total medical encounters affecting muscles and/or tendons.
The sport with the highest risk of muscle or tendon injury was football with 45% of the total injuries occurring in this event, compared to lower-risk sports (eg. swimming, bowling or fencing). Futsal had a moderate risk of injury, with 27% (14/52) of injuries occurring in this sport. Of all the muscle and tendon injuries, the majority, 73% (38/52) affected the lower limbs, 10% (5/52) affected the upper limbs and 17% (9/52) affected the back or neck. With regard to severity, 50% (26/52) were classed as an incident (no time lost from competition). Of the remaining 26 injuries that caused a player to lose playing time 54% were classed as minor (<1 match missed), 31% as moderate (1–2 matches missed) and 15% as major (>2 matches missed).
By studying injury data, our medical team can prepare for future multi-sport events and attempt to produce injury prevention programmes.