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Exploring the true burden of football injuries - Breakthrough

Exploring the true burden of football injuries

Football injuries represent a significant concern in terms of their economic and social burden, with an annual cost of $1.38 billion in the US alone.

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of players and fans around the globe. It can be fun and exciting, but like with many sports, it also carries with it the risk of injury. According to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, football injuries represent a significant concern, both in terms of their economic and social burden, with an estimated annual cost of $1.38 billion in the United States alone.

It’s important to explore the true extent of these injuries in order to get a better understanding of their impacts on both individuals and society as a whole. Whether you are a professional football player, or a fan of the sport looking for some new information or football tips, learning more about the true burden of football injuries will get you a better understanding of this incredible sport as a whole.

Types of football injuries

Let’s start by mentioning some of the most common types of football injuries. They can range from minor sprains and bruises to serious and life-threatening conditions, so it’s important to know how to prevent football injuries and how they occur. Here are some of the most common types of football injuries, backed by a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine which found that the lower extremities were the most common sites of injury, with the ankle being the most frequently affected.

Concussions

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury. A study in JAMA Neurology reported that concussions represent a significant portion of injuries in football and can occur when a player receives a hard blow to the head. Symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

It is important to seek medical attention right away if a concussion is suspected because failure to do so can lead to serious complications, as noted in a study from the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains are common injuries in football. They can occur when a player twists or overextends a joint or muscle. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Reduced mobility

Treatment may involve rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Fractures

Fractures can happen when a bone is broken or cracked. In football, fractures most commonly occur in the lower extremities – meaning the ankle or leg. Treatment may involve immobilisation and/or surgery.

Heat stroke and dehydration

Football is often played in hot and humid conditions, which can increase the risk of heat stroke and dehydration. According to a study in the Journal of Athletic Training, these conditions are not uncommon among football players, especially during preseason training sessions. Symptoms of heat stroke may include confusion, nausea and high body temperature, while dehydration may cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue, these potential risks are why football players need to stay hydrated and take breaks in shaded areas during hot weather.

Other injuries

Other types of football injuries may include:

  • Contusions (bruises)
  • Lacerations (cuts)
  • Dislocations

These injuries may occur because of collisions with other players or equipment, such as the ball or goalpost.

The economic burden of football injuries

Football injuries can have a significant economic impact on individuals, as well as families, and society as a whole. Here are some ways that football injuries can cause economic burden:

Direct medical costs

The direct medical costs of treating football injuries can be substantial and includes expenses such as emergency room visits, diagnostic tests, surgeries, hospital stays and physical therapy.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs of football injuries can include lost wages, reduced productivity and the cost of long-term care. For example, a football player who is unable to work due to a serious injury may experience lost wages and reduced productivity, which can have a significant economic impact over time. A study from the Journal of Sports Economics pointed to the significant indirect cost of injuries, emphasising the substantial burden they place on both the player and the team.

Long-term economic burden

The long-term economic burden of football injuries can also be significant, this can include expenses like ongoing medical care, rehabilitation and disability payments. Over time, these expenses can mount to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, long-term medical costs can be a major factor in the overall economic burden of football injuries.

The social burden of football injuries

Football injuries can also have a significant impact beyond just the economic burden. Here are some ways that football injuries can become a social burden:

Emotional and psychological impact

Football injuries can have a significant emotional and psychological impact on individuals and their families. In addition to physical pain, injuries can cause anxiety, depression and a sense of isolation. Research published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that athletes who suffer serious injuries often face significant emotional and psychological challenges, including depression and anxiety.

Disruption of social networks

Football injuries can also disrupt social networks, both for the injured player and their teammates. For example, a player who is injured and unable to play may experience feelings of isolation and disconnection from the team. A study in the Sociology of Sport Journal noted that the social impact of injuries can be significant, often affecting the dynamics within the team.

Reduced quality of life

Football injuries can have a lasting impact on the quality of life for injured players and their families. A player with a chronic injury may experience ongoing pain and reduced mobility, which can affect their ability to participate in everyday activities. According to research in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, chronic injuries can significantly reduce quality of life in athletes, further emphasising the social burden of these injuries.

Conclusion

Ultimately, reducing the burden of football injuries requires a multifaceted approach that addresses not only the physical risks of playing football but also the social and economic consequences of injuries.

This includes investing in research to better understand the causes and risk factors for football injuries, implementing evidence-based strategies for injury prevention, and providing appropriate support for injured players and their families.

By working together to address the burden of football injuries, both experts and players can ensure that this beloved sport remains a safe and enjoyable activity for everyone.

Vey Law

Vey Law is a reporter at Breakthrough.

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