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Abstract

Purpose: There is significant cost associated with sports injury. Establishing injury profiles in contact sports like Australian Rules Football (ARF) will facilitate implementation of injury prevention strategies. The purpose of this literature review was to investigate sports injury data collection methodology, assess the strengths and limitations of previous research and identify gaps in the relevant literature. Recommendations for methodology of future sports injury data collection studies are made, particularly with reference to junior ARF. Method: A non-systematic literature search was undertaken in a narrative fashion to determine past and current injury surveillance in Australian Rules Football (ARF), Soccer, Rugby league and Union. The comprehensive search was performed using databases Cinahl, Sport Discus, Medline, Science Direct, Scopus and Informit Health Database: Ausport. For inclusion in this review, studies had to include the collection of baseline data, be peer-reviewed and have full text versions available in English. The effect of the methodology on research outcomes was evaluated, including: epidemiology, aetiology, common mechanisms and risk factors for injury are evaluated, as are the incidence, prevalence, severity and pathologies of injury in relevant sports. Results: While other alternatives are presented and evaluated, the following criteria appear the most reliable for use in future studies. A narrow games/time lost injury definition; a similar narrow injury severity definition; and a prospective model for sports injury data collection, making use of a standardised Player Movement Record (PMR). The AFL is the only major sport in which an injury surveillance system has been created that is robust, reliable and has captured all data from all clubs over a 12 year period. This system uses all criteria outlined. Conclusions/Recommendations: A significant knowledge gap remains with respect to the analytical epidemiology of injuries at the non-elite level of participation and a very small evidence base exists for injury prevention in Australian football, especially at non-elite and junior levels. By using critically developed methodology in the form of a prospective cohort study, an updated sports injury data collection model, adequate sample size and consistent injury definition, future research will guide future injury prevention interventions in junior ARF.

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