Nonelite Exercise-related Injuries: Participant Reported Frequency, Management and Perceptions of their Consequences
Grice A, Kingsbury SR, Conaghan PG. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Aug 27
Take Home Message: Middle-aged recreational athletes display dissatisfaction with health care pathways for treatment of sports-related injuries and have a limited awareness of proper management and long-term consequences of such injuries.
Recreational athletes are rarely the center of investigation when it comes to sports medicine research, yet they also suffer injuries and need proper care to return to their physical activity. More importantly, these athletes may not be aware of proper injury management or the long-term consequences of their injuries, such as osteoarthritis. If we understood how a recreational athlete perceives and manages an injury we could develop education strategies to reduce the risk of future consequences and encourage his/her safe return to physical activity. Therefore, Grice et al. explored the attitudes of nonelite, middle-aged, recreational athletes towards treatment and consequences of injuries. The authors held focus group discussions to investigate sports related-injuries of 24 recreational athletes training towards events such as a marathon. All of these athletes previously suffered an injury related to their training, which restricted their normal participation. Online surveys were also taken by 1002 physically active participants who exercised at least 3 times a week. Over half of these participants reported having suffered an exercise-related injury. The focus group had a reluctant attitude towards seeking treatment for injuries as they reported they would more likely seek advice from teammates or friends, or even from online resources before visiting a general practitioner. Furthermore, the focus group had negative attitudes towards medical resources for their injuries. Both groups expressed concerns about the short-term consequences of their injuries and sought advice as to preventing re-occurrence but the focus group was less interested in long-term implications of their injuries because they viewed the benefits of exercise to outweigh these possible risks. Lastly, those who had been injured in the past were less likely to seek proper health care management and were more likely to continue exercise even with an injury.
Athletes who previously sought treatment for an injury reported they would most less likely to seek treatment for a sports-related injury in the future. This may coincide with the focus group’s negative view that general practitioners are the first step to seeking treatment, yet they are limited in knowledge and less effective in treatment as compared to sports medicine specialists. By not seeking appropriate treatment these athletes may be poorly managing their injuries, which could lead to long-term health problems such as osteoarthritis. This is especially concerning considering all participants in this study displayed a lack of knowledge of these risks. Although this investigation shows interesting insight into the attitudes of recreational athletes in regard to injuries, it was carried out in the United Kingdom and may not be generalizable to the United States. However, it would be interesting to explore this concept in the states to see if similar attitudes exist and if there is a large need for education about injury management and consequences in recreational athletes. This study should help us remember the importance of educating recreational athletes so as to help them safely return to their physical activity while possibly reducing their risk of developing future health problems.
Questions for Discussion: Do you think Americans of a similar recreational level have the same attitudes towards injury management and risks as displayed in this study? If yes, how would you suggest we begin to tackle this difficulty?
Written by: Jacqueline Phillips
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
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