More investment needed to tackle sports injuries in regional communities

Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is calling for a greater investment to tackle the incidence of sport-related injuries in regional communities following the release of a new report analysing Australian sports injury hospitalisations data.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report revealed sport-related injuries are responsible for more than 36,000 hospitalisations each year, with data showing that population based sport-related injury rates were higher in regional, remote and very remote areas compared to major cities.

SMA CEO Nello Marino said this location based data highlighted the need for greater investment in regional community sport and its volunteers to increase awareness about sports injury prevention and its management, as well as improve responses to sports medical emergencies.

“Ensuring community sports clubs are equipped to provide sideline help, in the form of designated sports trainers and medical personnel, at every game and training session is critical if we want to put the health and welfare of players first,” Mr Marino said.

“Having trained personnel on hand is particularly important in regional or remote areas of Australia, where the nearest hospital or medical centre may be hours away.

“Local regional sports clubs are often run predominantly by volunteers and are very resource poor, with many clubs lacking the ability to invest in vital safety and first aid training.

“This report highlights the need for greater investment in education and training support for community sport volunteers – particularly in regional and remote areas – to support the delivery of injury prevention initiatives and improve capacity to respond to first aid and emergency medical situations.”

Mr Marino said direct and long-term investment in targeted injury prevention initiatives is also required to reduce the incidence and impact of sport-related injuries across the broader community.

“Sport-related injuries are a significant barrier to participation in physical activity, sport and recreation activities.

“Between 30 to 40 per cent of participants who experience a major sport-related injury will drop out of sport, or significantly reduce their physical activity levels as a result of the injury.*

“These concerning drop-out rates not only have serious implications for the future of grassroots sport but also reduce the broader economic, community and health benefits of community sport and physical activity.

“With obesity levels now growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, and physical inactivity costing around $13.8 billion per year, community participation in sport and recreation has never been more important to our community.

“Prevention is the key to maximising participation and performance in community sport and physical activity.”

* Sports Injury Prevention Taskforce Final Report (Victorian Government, 2013)

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