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Influence of rugby injuries on players' subsequent health and lifestyle: beginning a long term follow up
  1. A J Lee1,
  2. W M Garraway2,
  3. W Hepburn1,
  4. R Laidlaw3
  1. 1Medical Statistics Unit, Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health, University of Edinburgh
  3. 3Coaching Department, Scottish Rugby Union, Murrayfield, Roseburn Terrace, Edinburgh
  1. Correspondence to: Miss A J Lee, Medical Statistics Unit, Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, Scotland, UK Mandy.Lee{at}


Objectives—To describe the current rugby playing status of a cohort of 1169 men who had previously participated in an epidemiological survey of rugby injuries during the 1993–1994 season, and assess the consequences of rugby injuries sustained.

Methods—In May 1998, 911 (78%) men completed a questionnaire reporting their current involvement in rugby and the influence that the 324 (71%) injuries they had sustained four years earlier had since had on their health and wellbeing.

Results—The most common reasons given by the 390 (43%) ex-players for ceasing to play rugby were family (10%), employment (25%), and an injury sustained while playing rugby (26%), 80% of which were dislocations, strains, and sprains, mainly to the knee (35%), back (14%), and shoulder (9%). A significantly (χ2 test 21.7, df = 1, p<0.001) higher proportion of current players (90%) undertook (non-rugby) sporting activities compared with ex-players (78%). Few ex-players undertook coaching (12%) and refereeing (2%). Only 22 (9%) men reported significant negative effects to employment, family life, and health up to mid-1998 from injuries that occurred during the 1993–1994 season, although the impact on their lifestyle had been substantial in some cases.

Conclusions—With the recent increase in the incidence of dislocation, strain, and sprain injuries in rugby football, the findings of this follow up could have a great impact on the game in the future. Although this survey has shown that, so far, only a small proportion of players suffer significant effects of rugby injuries, four years is not long enough to assess the long term effects. This cohort of rugby players need to be followed up for at least a further 20 years to determine whether there is a higher incidence of subsequent degenerative joint disease or other long term sequelae to injuries sustained while playing rugby.

  • follow up
  • injury
  • knee
  • lifestyle
  • rugby union
  • epidemiology

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