The prevention of injuries in contact flag football
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American flag football is a non-tackle, contact sport with many moderate to severe contact-type injuries reported. A previous prospective injury surveillance study by the authors revealed a high incidence of injuries to the fingers, face, knee, shoulder and ankle. The objectives of the study were to conduct a pilot-prospective injury prevention study in an attempt to significantly reduce the incidence and the severity of injuries as compared to a historical cohort, as well as to provide recommendations for a future prospective injury prevention study.
A prospective injury prevention study was conducted involving 724 amateur male (mean age: 20.0 ± 3.1 years) and 114 female (mean age: 21.2 ± 7.2 years) players. Four prevention measures were implemented: the no-pocket rule, self-fitting mouth guards, ankle braces (for those players with recurrent ankle sprains) and an injury treatment information brochure. An injury surveillance questionnaire was administered to record all time-loss injuries sustained in game sessions.
There was a statistically significant reduction in the number of injured players, the number of finger/hand injuries, the incidence rate and the incidence proportion between the two cohorts (p < 0.05).
This one-season pilot prevention study has provided preliminary evidence that finger/hand injuries can be significantly reduced in flag football. Prevention strategies for a longer, prospective, randomised-controlled injury prevention study should include the strict enforcement of the no-pocket rule, appropriate head gear, the use of comfortable-fitting ankle braces and mouth guards, and changing the blocking rules of the game.
Level of evidence
KeywordsContact flag football Sports injuries Prevention Intervention study
The authors would like to thank Mrs. Tali Bdolah, MSc, Senior statistician, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, for her assistance with the statistical analysis, as well as Miss Sari Goldstein, BSc, for her editing assistance in preparing this manuscript.
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