Objective: To generate national representative data on the incidence, diagnosis, severity, and nature of medically treated sports injuries and to identify high risk groups.
Methods: The first national health survey for the Federal Republic of Germany, conducted in the format of a standardised, written, cross sectional survey in the period October 1997 to March 1999, gathered data on the incidence of accident and injury and information on social demographics, injury related disability/time off work, and injury location/setting. The net sample comprised 7124 people aged 18–79.
Results: 3.1% of adult Germans said they sustained a sports injury during the previous year, corresponding to an annual injury rate of 5.6% among those engaging in regular recreational physical activity and ranking sports injuries as the second most common type of accident. About 62% of all sports injuries result in time taken off work. The period of occupational disability is 14 days or less in around two thirds of these cases. The occupational disability rate after occupational and traffic accidents is much higher by comparison. Dislocations, distortions, and/or torn ligaments make up 60% of all sports injuries, followed by fractures (18%), contusions, surface wounds, or open wounds (12%). Three out of four sports injury casualties are male. The incidence declines noticeably in higher age groups.
Conclusions: Future injury prevention measures should focus on the high risk group of young male recreational athletes. The data indicate that the fear of damage to health and injury, believed to be significant internal psychological barriers to participation in sports, is largely unwarranted for the female population and/or older age groups. Sporting injuries are a marginal phenomenon among the female population and mobile seniors actively engaged in sports.
- physical activity
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Competing interests: none declared