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BMJ Open. 2013 May 28;3(5). pii: e002634. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002634.

Risk factors for hand injury in hurling: a cross-sectional study.

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Department of Sport Medicine, Sports Surgery Clinic, Dublin, Ireland.



Hurling is Ireland's national sport, played with a stick and ball; injury to the hand is common. A decrease in the proportion of head injury among emergency department (ED) presentations for hurling-related injury has coincided with voluntary use of helmet and face protection since 2003. A similar decrease in proportions has not occurred in hand injury. We aim to quantify hurling-related ED presentations and examine variables associated with injury. In particular, we were interested in comparing the occurrence of hand injury in those using head and face protection versus those who did not.


This study utilised a retrospective cross-sectional study design.


This study took place at a university hospital ED over a 3-month period.


A follow-up telephone interview was performed with 163 players aged ≥16 years to reflect voluntary versus obligatory helmet use.


The hand was most often injured (n=85, 52.1%). Hand injury most commonly occurred from a blow of a hurley (n=104, 65%), and fracture was confirmed in 62% of cases. Two-thirds of players (66.3%) had multiple previous (1-5) hand injuries. Most patients 149 (91.4%) had tried commercially available hand protection, but only 4.9% used hand protection regularly. Univariate analysis showed a statistically significant association between wearing a helmet and faceguard and hand injury; OR 2.76 (95% CI 1.42 to 5.37) p=0.003. On further analysis adjusting simultaneously for age, prior injury, foul play and being struck by a hurley, this relationship remained significant (OR 3.15 95% CI 1.51 to 6.56, p=0.002).


We report that hurling-related hand injury is common. We noted the low uptake of hand protection. We found that hand injury was significantly associated with the use of helmet and faceguard protection, independent of the other factors studied. Further studies are warranted to develop strategies to minimise the occurrence of this injury.


Sports Medicine

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