Study on GAA injuries revealed

Updated: November 21, 2011

The subject of injuries incurred by Gaelic Footballers has been much in the spotlight in the last year, especially with the number of cruciate ligament injuries sustained.

The fortnightly newspaper “Medical Independent”, aimed at Irish doctors has this week published a summary of the findings from a detailed study carried out by Dr John Crowley, Dr Joe Jordan and Dr Éanna Falvey which reviewed injuries presenting at source by studying the Ladies Gaelic Football Player Insurance scheme.

So what were those findings ?

The “Medical Independent” reports that the study published in the Irish Medical Journal has found that female Gaelic football players are 3.5 times less likely to be injured whilst playing than males.

The objectives of the research was to compare the incidence of injury in both the women’s and men’s game, to highlight any variations in injury pattern between the two sports, and to determine whether injury occurrence is more common in training or a match setting.

This study accumulated data from the playing district of County Cork. The clubs were specifically chosen from geographically different areas, notably urban, sub-urban and rural areas. This study compiled injury data over the course of one full season in 2008.

Information was gathered as a retrospective review of all insurance claims forms submitted under both the Ladies Gaelic Football Player Injury Insurance Scheme and the G.A.A. Player’s Injury Insurance Scheme for one full season. The existence of these schemes allows accurate reporting of all injuries requiring medical treatment for both ladies and men’s Gaelic football.

“An injury rate of 8.25 injuries per 1000 playing hours was seen in men’s Gaelic football. An injury rate of 2.4 injuries per 1000 playing hours was seen in Ladies Gaelic football.”

The study included details regarding most common injuries in both games. Lower limb injuries were the most common, representing 70% of all injuries recorded in men. Similarly, lower limb injuries were the most common in women, representing 58% of all injuries recorded. According to the authors, these findings correlate well with a study of injury profiles amongst elite male Gaelic footballers where it was shown that lower limb injuries also predominated.

In men, the most common lower limb injury was to the ankle area, while the most common lower limb muscle injury involved the hamstring. In contrast, the most common lower limb female injury recorded involved the knee. Muscular injury involving the hamstring (50% of all lower limb
muscular injuries) accounted for a far greater percentage of lower limb muscular injuries than in the male group. The high incidence of ankle injury recorded amongst the male group correlates well with two existing men’s Gaelic football studies.

The most common upper limb injury in men was soft tissue injury, with 30% of muscle injuries involving the deltoid. In contrast, at 57%, the most common upper limb injury amongst the female group was fracture.

In ladies Gaelic football, match-related injuries accounted for 55% of claims, while training related claims accounting for the remaining 45%. 97% of male injuries occurred in training. On this point, the authors do stipulate that reporting of match incurred injury in males may be lacking leading to a simple bias. (This may be due to the requirement of any match injury to be reported in the referee’s match report, which can be difficult to obtain following the event).

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