Sports injuries on the up

Retail pharmacy plays a big role in supporting injured customers. From recommending OTC products to managing pain medications and suggesting referrals to other health experts, retail pharmacy is a significant part of the injury management team.

While sports injuries declined during COVID-19 due to lockdown measures and event cancellations, the number of Australians admitted to hospital for injuries sustained while playing sports has returned to pre-COVID trends.

This is according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) titled, ‘Sports injuries in Australia’.

“In response to COVID-19 lockdowns and the cancellation of many sporting activities, there was a decline in the number of sports injury hospitalisations in 2019–20, but in 2020–21, the numbers rebounded to pre-pandemic trends, increasing by 27%,” says AIHW spokesperson Dr Heather Swanston.

The AIHW shows that cycling accounted for the highest number of sports injury hospitalisations in 2020–21, with 9800 injury hospitalisations – up from 8000 in 2019–20 – an increase of 35 injury hospitalisations per week.

“Unlike many other sports, there was a rise in the number of cycling injuries in 2019–20 and 2020–21, which may reflect increased participation rates in solo sports with the onset of COVID-19 that has continued with the lifting of restrictions,” says Dr Swanston.

When participation rates are taken into account, rugby codes and wheeled motor sports (for example, motorbike racing, and car racing) had the highest rates of injuries requiring hospitalisation, each with 1200 injury hospitalisations per 100,000 participants aged 15 and over.

Over half of all hospitalisations for sporting injuries in 2020–21 were for fractures – most commonly a fractured arm or shoulder. Less than 5% of all injuries resulted in concussion.