Background: Despite the growing popularity of women’s football and the increasing number of female players, there has been little research on injuries sustained by female football players.
Purpose: Analysis of the incidence, characteristics and circumstances of injury in elite female football players in top-level international tournaments.
Study design: Prospective survey.
Methods: Injuries incurred in seven international football tournaments were analysed using an established injury report system. Doctors of all participating teams reported all injuries after each match on a standardised injury reporting form. The mean response rate was 95%.
Results: 387 injuries were reported from 174 matches, equivalent to an incidence of 67.4 injuries/1000 player hours (95% CI 60.7 to 74.1) or 2.2 injuries/match (95% CI 2.0 to 2.4). Most injuries (84%; 317/378) were caused by contact with another player. The injuries most commonly involved the lower extremity (n = 248; 65%), followed by injuries of the head and neck (n = 67, 18%), trunk (n = 33, 9%) and upper extremity (n = 32, 8%). Contusions (n = 166; 45%) were the most frequent type of injury, followed by sprains or ligament rupture (n = 96; 26%) and strains or muscle fibre ruptures (n = 31; 8%). The most common diagnosis was an ankle sprain. There were 7 ligament ruptures and 15 sprains of the knee. On average 1 injury/match (95% CI 0.8 to 1.2) was expected to result in absence from a match or training.
Conclusion: The injury rate in women’s top-level tournaments was within the range reported previously for match injuries in elite male and female players. However, the diagnoses and mechanisms of injury among the female players differed substantially from those previously reported in male football players.
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