Background Gaelic football and hurling are national sports of Ireland. The Gaelic Athletic Association has supported the development of an injury database as a platform for injury prevention.
Objective To report on epidemiology of head injury, in teams registered to the National Injury Database (2007–2012).
Design Prospective injury surveillance.
Setting Elite level teams.
Participants Male players selected for representative county teams were enrolled, with consent, to the database. Identities were concealed and data collected from January 1st each year until elimination from the inter-county competition.
Assessment of risk factors Injury incidence was measured prospectively.
Main outcome measures A time-loss injury definition was used, conforming to international consensus definitions. The team doctor or Chartered physiotherapist recorded date, type and circumstances of injury, as well as date of return to partial or full fitness. Injury incidence was expressed as rate per 1000 hours participation in match-play and training. Injury proportions were calculated.
Results Thirty-five football and 28 hurling squads participated. There were 1188 football players and 914 hurlers in total over the 6 years. Injuries to the head region constituted 3.0% of football injuries and 2.4% of hurling injuries. The head injury incidence rate was 0.26 per 1000 hours of football and 0.19 per 1000 hours of hurling overall. Concussion was diagnosed in 0.8% football and 0.8% hurling injuries. Fractures to the nose constituted 0.7% football injuries and 0.3% hurling injuries. Fractured mandible was reported in football (0.2% injuries) and fractured maxilla/orbit in hurling (0.08%). Perforated eardrum was reported in both football (0.08%) and hurling (0.09%). Lacerations and contusions accounted for 0.9% injuries for football and 0.8% for hurling. There was an additional retinal bleed (0.09%) and dental injury (0.09%) in hurling.
Conclusions The results provide reference data for head injury in these sports, against which injury prevention methods can be evaluated.
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