Implementing sports injury prevention – improving translation and dissemination of advice

The December, Volume 45(16), Injury Prevention and Health Promotion issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Injury Prevention’s sister journal, has three papers with strong messages about how sports injury prevention efforts could be enhanced through better translation of scientific evidence or different targeting of messages.

The Editor’s choice paper by Finch, summarizes the current status of sports injury prevention implementation research and provides some recommendations for how research needs to further develop in this area.  The paper is a summary of the keynote address I presented at the 2011 International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport (see previous Editorial in this journal).  It argues strongly for an ecological perspective to be brought to the sports injury prevention area, as a means of better understanding the context in which sports injuries occur and in which interventions need to be delivered.

A review paper by McIntosh and his international colleagues
gives an excellent overview of the role of sports helmets for preventing head injuries.  The item has a particular focus on the biomechanical design of such helmets and the opportunities to incorporate new in-helmet technologies to improve both the performance of those helmets during impacts and to more directly measure impact exposure. The paper includes recommendations for future research into helmet design and the promotion of helmets.  To directly quote the authors: “The translation pathway from the science to new and better helmets is the development of appropriate helmet standards and the requirement for only helmets to be used that are certified to those standards.”

A paper by Emery and colleagues from Canada
explores the risk of injury and concussion in relation to sports outcomes of team performance and penalty minutes in youth ice hockey.  There has been previous commentary in the sports injury literature that when delivering injury prevention in the sports context it is the potential for adverse impact on sports participation and performance which drives athlete/coach behavior rather than the need for medical or other treatment for injury (e.g. Finch et al, 2011).  This new paper is one of the first to directly report injury rates in relation to team performance and it confirmed a significant association between the two.  Teams that won more than 50% of their in-season games had a 22% lower injury rate overall and a 38% reduction in the rate of injuries resulting in less than 7 days away from the sport.  Given that performance outcomes are linked to lower injury rates, it would seem that emphasizing performance benefits could be explored as a useful means of encouraging higher uptake of sports injury prevention measures.

Caroline Finch is an injury prevention researcher from the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) within the Monash Injury Research Centre, Monash University, Australia.  She specialises in implementation and dissemination science applications for sports injury prevention.  She is the Senior Associate Editor for Implementation & Dissemination for the British Journal of Sports Medicine and a member of the Editorial Board of Injury Prevention; both journals are published by the BMJ Group.  Caroline can be followed on Twitter @CarolineFinch

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