Aim There is scarce information on rugby league injuries in female players. This paper provides an overview of the epidemiology of women's rugby league injuries requiring medical treatment and associated costs in New Zealand.
Method New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation injury data for the period 1999–2007 were searched for rugby league injury cases occurring in females. Data were analysed by demographics, body region, nature/severity of injury, and medical procedure and costs.
Results There were 320 moderate to serious injury claims recorded for females participating in rugby league activities over the study period. There was a mean (SD) of 37.9 (9.5) injury claims per year. The mean cost per year for the study period was $196 514 ($99 133) (£76 066 (£38 374)) with half of the injury claims occurring in New Zealand Maori. Concussion/brain injuries accounted for 3.8% of total female moderate to serious injury claims but accounted for 5.4% of female injury costs ($84 399 (£32 688)) with the highest mean cost per claim ($7033 (£2724)). The lower limb accounted for 65% of the total female injury claims and 58.7% of total injury costs ($922 296 (£356 968)). The mean cost per claim was higher for the lower limb ($4434 (£1714)) than the upper ($3331 (£1288)) limb. Clerks recorded 16.3% of the total injury claims, 20.3% of total injury costs ($319 474 (£123 211)) and had the highest mean cost per claim ($6144 (£2370)). The 25–29 age group recorded 31.9% of injury claims and 33.8% of injury costs. The 35–39 age group recorded the highest mean cost per claim ($6200 (£2392)) but only 10.9% of total claims and 13.8% of total costs.
Discussion When compared with other studies in rugby league injuries, it appears that females incur substantially fewer injuries (5.7%) than males (94.3%). Although no participation data by sex are available, it is likely that participation percentages are reflected in the injury percentages. The high frequency (65%) and cost proportion (58.7%) for lower limb injuries was higher in females than in male rugby league players (previously reported as 42.4% of the injury claims and 31.5% of the total injury claim costs for the lower limb).
Conclusions Injury prevention programmes for women's rugby league should focus on the 25–29 age group and address ways to prevent concussion and lower limb injuries.
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