Injury Statistics

5 Jan

Statistics are seemingly becoming a major part of all of our lives; from your favorite baseball players batting average, to the graduation rate of the school system, to your fantasy football team, to the injury rate of particular activities.  Being an athletic trainer the later is important, not only does it paint a picture of “expected” injuries we should be on top of, it also provides information for us to use in terms of making solid decisions about return to sport.

If a player sustains an injury that occurs a high percentage of the time in the sport, then when returning there are different things we can do, in terms of preventative measures, to possibly avoid a re-injury.  Along with that, if a player sustains a “freak injury” and obtains complete recovery statistics can tell us if playing again is a good idea at all.

This is why it is important to have all the available information be correct and up to date; more and more decisions not only from athletic trainers but parents about playing are made from such injury statistics.  One of the “gold standards” of injury surveillance for athletic training is the work done by R. Dawn Comstock.  Comstock does the collection of data from various “inputers” of injury information, mainly other athletic trainers, to paint an overall picture.  This picture is wonderful for high school and college aged athletes, however it is limited by actual numbers being reports, alas it is the best we have.

Another “important” data base is that from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina.  The NCCSI provides the catastrophic injury rates for sports, painting a picture of “worst case” injuries.  This product has, until now, been taken on face value.  As Matt Chaney explains in his latest post their information may not be up to snuff;

Football-funded researchers Frederick Mueller and Dr. Robert Cantu are ignoring interview requests concerning their under-reporting of catastrophic casualties in the American sport, injuries they classify as severe trauma involving brain, skull, vertebral column and/or spinal cord.

Or Mueller and Cantu aren’t talking to me, at least, perhaps understandably from their perspective, facing now their likely decades of bad data in cases shortfall, erroneous rates, and even baseless claims about trending “safer” football in the United States.

And all because my electronic searches through Google banks continue to produce cases and rates of catastrophic football injury that bury Mueller-Cantu numbers, which are widely accepted and republished at face value, including by medical journals and the CDC.

Mueller and Cantu work under auspices of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina. The NCAA provides major funding.

Most importantly, America faces likelihood the large majority of catastrophic football injuries go unreported in public, besides a minor portion emerging in news information, the stream fished heavily by Mueller and Cantu for cases they catch.

I think it is good that Chaney has taken his own time to unearth the shortcoming of the catastrophic injury database.  Without true and complete (as possible) numbers it would be a kin to looking at a Monet only partially done.  I have yet to get on the destruction of American football bandwagon, but I am not on the “all is fine” bandwagon either.  Regardless, thanks to Chaney (a good friend) we can possibly get the rest of the painting completed, including concussion information.

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