Acute injuries in track and field athletes: A 3-year observational study at the Penn Relays Carnival with epidemiology and medical coverage implications

Opar, David A., Drezner, Jonathan, & Shield, Anthony (2015) Acute injuries in track and field athletes: A 3-year observational study at the Penn Relays Carnival with epidemiology and medical coverage implications. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(4), pp. 816-822.

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Few studies have examined acute injuries in track and field in both elite and sub-elite athletes.


To observe the absolute and relative rates of injury in track and field athletes across a wide range of competition levels and ages during three years of the Penn Relays Carnival to assist with future medical coverage planning and injury prevention strategies. Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.


Over a 3-year period all injuries treated by the medical staff were recorded on a standardised injury report form. Absolute injury rates (absolute number of injuries) and relative injury rates (number of injuries per 1000 participants) were determined and odds ratios (OR) of injury rates were calculated between sexes, competition levels and events. Injuries were also broken down into major or minor medical or orthopedic injuries.


Throughout the study period 48,473 competing athletes participated in the Penn Relays Carnival, and 436 injuries were sustained. For medical coverage purposes, the relative rate of injury subtypes was greatest for minor orthopedic injuries (5.71 injuries per 1000 participants), followed by minor medical injuries (3.42 injuries per 1000 participants), major medical injuries (0.69 injuries per 1000 participants) and major orthopedic injuries (0.18 injuries per 1000 participants). College/elite level athletes displayed the lowest relative injury rate (7.99 injuries per 1000 participants), which was significantly less than high school (9.87 injuries per 1000 participants) and masters level athletes (16.33 injuries per 1000 participants). Males displayed a greater likelihood of suffering a minor orthopedic injury compared to females (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.06 to 1.75; χ2 = 5.73, p = 0.017) but were less likely to sustain a major medical injury (OR = 0.33, 95% CI = 0.15 to 0.75; χ2 = 7.75, p = 0.005). Of the three most heavily participated in events, the 4 x 400m relay displayed the greatest relative injury rate (13.6 injuries per 1000 participants) compared to the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200m relay.


Medical coverage teams for future large scale track and field events need to plan for at least two major orthopedic and seven major medical injuries per 1000 participants. Male track and field athletes, particularly masters level male athletes, are at greater risk of injury compared to other genders and competition levels.

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ID Code: 78605
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Epidemiology, injury, athletics, medical coverage
DOI: 10.1177/0363546514562553
ISSN: 1552-3365
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Sports Medicine (110604)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2014 23:03
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2015 16:56

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