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 Provide injury/illness epidemiology information on the Great Britain (GB) short-track speed skating squad.
Design Longitudinal prospective surveillance study, recording injury/illness, and training/competition exposure data. Definitions for injury/illness, time-loss and performance-restriction were used to identify the rate and severity of athlete injuries/illnesses.
Setting GB short-track speed skating National training centre, including domestic and international training/competition venues during the 2009/2010 season.
Participants 11 (7 male; 4 female) National team athletes.
Interventions Standardised report forms for injuries/illnesses were completed by medical, and competition/training exposure by coaching, support staff.
Main outcome measure Injury/illness rate, severity and causes.
Results There were 14 training (2.7/1000 athlete training hrs) and 2 competition (13/100 competition starts) injuries, and 12 illnesses. Equating 64% and 73% of the squad suffering at least one injury/illness, with 29 days and 5 days lost per injury/illness, respectively. Injuries to the thigh (38%), lumbar spine and knee (19% each) were most common, with 8, 19, and 43 days lost per injury, respectively. Overuse (gradual/sudden-onset: 38%), non-contact trauma (31%) and contact – static object (25%) were the most common causes of injury, with contact – static object (59d) and overuse (33d) most severe. Upper respiratory tract infection was the most common illness (75%), occurring more frequently around periods of competition and long haul travel.
Conclusions Injury and illness seasonal prevalence was similar, but severity greater for injuries. Prevention initiatives targeting common and severe injuries/illnesses may be beneficial in reducing the number of athlete days lost to training/competition.