Background In Germany 26 million citizens, almost 30% of the total population, are registered in sports clubs. Nowadays, sport as part of a healthy and physically active lifestyle is virtually accepted as medicine against widespread diseases. The positive effects of sports on wellbeing and health are undoubted. However, about 2 million sports injuries occur annually. 700,000 of these result from club sports.
Objective To describe and analyse the epidemiology of sports injuries and to identify focal areas for sports injury prevention programmes on the basis of 25 years of injury surveillance data for German club sports.
Design Retrospective longitudinal study with questionnaire-based injury registration. Since 1987 a database of more than 200 000 sports injuries has been established. Athletes that report a sports accident to the ARAG sports insurance are asked to complete an anonymized questionnaire on the accident, injury, treatment and sports behaviour.
Setting Non-professional club sports participants.
Results 75% of the injuries are registered in soccer, handball, basketball and volleyball, although only 30% of all sports club members are organized in these sports. The number of women's soccer injuries has risen from 7% to 15%. Ankle injuries have decreased from 30% to 19%, whereas the rate of knee injuries has increased slightly from 17% to 21%. Days of disability have dropped steadily since the 1990s, whereas inpatient hospital days have doubled from 5 to 10 days. The share of injuries that need surgery increased from 30% to 40%. Injuries to the knee, lower leg and upper arm have the highest surgery rate, indicating more serious injuries here.
Conclusion Team sports are a clear focal area for injury prevention, in particular as the number of female participants in these sports has dramatically increased since 1987. For tailoring the prevention measures more specific to the target groups the following differentiation of prevention approaches is useful: Training & Physical Preparation, Technical & Political Approaches, Equipment & Facilities, Medical & Non-medical Support.
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