The Epidemiology of Injuries in Contact Flag Football

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Abstract

Objective:

To characterize the epidemiology of injuries in post–high school male and female athletes in the rapidly growing international sport of contact flag football.

Design:

Prospective injury-observational study.

Setting:

Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem, Israel.

Participants:

A total of 1492 players, consisting of men (n = 1252, mean age, 20.49 ± 5.11) and women (n = 240, mean age, 21.32 ± 8.95 years), participated in 1028 games over a 2-season period (2007-2009).

Main Outcome Measures:

All time-loss injuries sustained in game sessions were recorded by the off-the-field medical personnel and followed up by a more detailed phone injury surveillance questionnaire.

Results:

One hundred sixty-three injuries were reported, comprising 1 533 776 athletic exposures (AEs). The incidence rate was 0.11 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.09-0.12] per 1000 AEs, and incidence proportion was 10.66% (95% CI, 9.10-12.22). Seventy-six percent of the injuries were extrinsic in nature. Thirty percent of the injuries were to the fingers, thumb, and wrist, 17% to the knee, 17% to the head/face, 13% to the ankle, and 11% to the shoulder.

Conclusions:

Contact flag football results in a significant amount of moderate to severe injuries. These data may be used in the development of a formal American flag football injury database and in the development and implementation of a high-quality, randomized, prospective injury prevention study. This study should include the enforcement of the no-pocket rule, appropriate headgear, self-fitting mouth guards, the use of ankle braces, and changing the blocking rules of the game.

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