Background Participant compliance in community injury surveillance studies can be challenging. Novel collection methods such as short message service text (SMS) and online surveys may help compliance by participants.
Objective To examine injury epidemiology in community Australian Rules players as well as to investigate novel methods for data collection in community populations.
Design Prospective epidemiological study using SMS technology and online surveys to record training loads and new injuries.
Setting Community Australian Rules football, South East Queensland, Australia.
Participants 175 community male footballers, age 16–35 years.
Intervention Automated SMS and online survey of new injuries and weekly training load over the playing season (20 weeks).
Main Outcome Measurements injury incidence, location of injury, type of injury or illness, mechanism of injury, field position, initial perceived severity, place of referral, participant SMS compliance.
Results 202 registered injuries over 20 weeks, trauma (58.7%), overuse (24.4%), illness (9.0%). Top 5 injuries- thigh (12.2%), ankle (11.2%), head (10.6%), shoulder (10.1%), knee (10.1%) are comparable to elite studies. Most common mechanisms- contact with player (27.2%), running (18.5%), and landing from jumping (10.3%). There was no significant playing position injury finding. Severity of injury- mild (<2 weeks, 80.1%), moderate (3–6 weeks, 10.9%), severe (>6 weeks, 9.0%). Two thirds of all injuries presented for medical attention, almost half to physiotherapy followed by doctor/ or emergency department (30.1%). There was a SMS compliance rate of approximately 80%, adjusted for season duration of different community leagues.
Conclusion Injury rates in this community study were comparable to findings in elite studies for injury location and mechanisms. This study confirms the high burden of community ARF injuries on the medical system in Australia. Compliance to injury surveillance in the community was considerably better than previous sports trainer lead studies. SMS technology and online survey self-report have been shown to be an effective way of collecting injury data in a community setting. Accurate community studies can help shape government funding in areas of need.