3,357 Olympian Sport Injuries Subject of New Study
Suffering at least one significant injury during their Olympic careers is common among Olympians. And the injury often still causes pain and functional limitations years later, a new study finds.
In the study, “Self-reported sports injuries and later-life health status in 3,357 retired Olympians from 131 countries: cross-sectional survey among those competing in the games between London 1948 and Pyeong Chang 2018,” published online on November 09, 2020 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers assessed the self-reported prevalence and nature of Olympic-career injury and general health and current lingering symptoms in retired Olympians.
The research team distributed a cross-sectional online survey to 3,357 retired Olympians from 131 counties using World Olympians Association and National Olympian Associations databases.
The Olympians were asked about Olympic sports exposure, significant training and competition injury history, general health during career, and current musculoskeletal pain and functional limitations.
The participants ranged in age from 16 years to 97 years, with the average being 44.7 years. A little more than half of the athletes were men. Overall, they represented 57 sports.
According to the data collected, 3,746 injuries were self-reported by 2,116 Olympians, with 63.0% of the athletes experiencing at least one significant injury during their Olympic career.
Handball had the highest injury prevalence in the Summer Olympics, while alpine skiing had the highest in the Winter Olympics.
The most common anatomical regions for injury were the knee (20.6%, 120 median days severity), lumbar spine (13.1%, 100 days) and shoulder/clavicle (12.9%, 92 days).
Almost 7% of the Olympians said they experienced depression during their career. And one-third of the retired Olympians were experiencing current pain (32.4%) and functional limitations (35.9%).
The researchers wrote, “Almost two-thirds of Olympians who completed the survey reported at least one Olympic-career significant injury”, and “one-third of this sample of Olympians attributed current pain and functional limitations to Olympic-career injury.”