People participate in sports for the thrill, for fitness, to relieve stress and to test one’s
limits. Testing or exceeding those limits, however, often results in injuries requiring hospitalisation — and possibly even death. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare examined the number of significant injuries, including those with a high risk of death, per sport and revealed some statistics of interest to our industry.
The report, entitled “Australian sports injury hospitalisations – 2011-12,”1 documents
the sporting activities that can lead to a range of injuries requiring hospitalisation and
potential short- or long-term disablement. (It did not track injuries treated in emergency
departments and other health care settings not resulting in hospitalisation.) The
report complements an earlier article we shared in the March 2014 issue of ReView
on the insurance implications of the increase in traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in sport
by looking at serious injuries in various parts of the body. Taken together, these reports
give us a picture of the risks assumed by professional and amateur competitors and the potential impact to insurers. We thought it worthwhile to bring the following key points to your attention.
The game’s the thing: overall findings
Motor sports, football and water sports accounted for 47% of all sports injury hospitalisations.
- Of the top 10 sports where injuries required hospitalisation, football-related injuries
made up 33.9% of the total, but notably the top 10 also included cycling (8%),
wheeled motor sports (7.6%) and equestrian activities (4.3%).
- Fractures accounted for nearly half of all sporting injuries sustained, with the most
affected areas being the knee and lower leg, elbow and forearm, and wrist and hand. Interestingly, 11% of fractures affected the head.
- One in 10 injuries admitted to the hospital was considered a high threat to life. A
high threat to life is when the predicted mortality risk is 6% or higher.
- Fortunately, only 31 people died in hospital in 2011-12
from a sports-sustained injury.
- The various codes of football played in Australia accounted for about one-third of all sports injury hospitalisations.
- Of the football codes, the top three relative percentages of football-related hospitalisations in 2011-12 were for Australian Rules football (26%), soccer (24.2%), and “Football, Other” and “Unspecified” (23.1%). (The “Other” group includes American tackle, Gaelic football and Gridiron, but excludes rugby union, league and touch football.)
- The mean length of stay (MLOS) in hospital after a rugby-related injury was 1.7 days, Australian Rules football was 1.5 days, soccer was 1.8 days, and touch football was 1.5 days.
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