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Int J Sports Med. 2007 Mar;28(3):247-52. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Epidemiology and risk factors of sports injuries--multivariate analyses using German national data.

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  • 1Orthop√§dische Universit√§tsklinik Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


Representative data on the incidence of sports injuries and the risk groups involved is extremely rare. The data generated by the "First National Health Survey for the Federal Republic of Germany", conducted between October 1997 and March 1999, included information on the incidence of sports injuries requiring medical care and the associated sick leave, fitness indicators, and potential risk factors. The data was collected on the basis of a standardised cross-sectional questionnaire. The net sample comprised 6687 subjects aged 18 to 79. 3.1 % of adult Germans sustained a sports-related injury within the foregoing year. The annual incidence of injury among those actively engaging in sports is 5.6 %. 62 % of all sports injuries result in sick leave. The period off work was longer than 30 days in only one out of five cases. Three out of four injured recreational athletes are male. The incidence declines significantly in the more senior population. These differences apply even if the specific sporting profile is factored in. Analysis of incidence rates on their own is misleading for some population groups. For instance, although individuals of normal weight and a good fitness display more than twice the average incidence of sports injuries, our study shows that these figures do not reflect the actual risk of injury, as bivariate calculation of incidence does not take account of the specific extent of sporting activity. When specific participation rates and the intensity of training are taken into account, no significant differences in the risk of injury are apparent. Our representative data also shows that future injury prevention strategies should focus on the highest risk group of young male recreational athletes.

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