Text Messaging for Sports Injury Registration? | Orthopedics This Week
Sports Medicine

Text Messaging for Sports Injury Registration?

Røa players celebrate after winning Toppserien 2009. / Source: Wikimedia commons and Røa Kunstgress

The rate of injury among female soccer players is ranging from 1-7 injuries for every 1, 000 hours of training or 12-24 injuries per 1, 000 hours of match play. That rate of variability makes predicting rates of injury little more than a roll of the dice.

In reality, there is a wide variability of registration methods used to report injuries. That variability, in turn, has led to large differences between the rates reported.

In order to reduce the discrepancies in reported injury rates, Norwegian doctors developed a text messaging method for prospective injury registration among female soccer players.

Three doctors from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center conducted a study involving all 12 teams in the Toppserien, the Norwegian female elite soccer league, during their 2009 competitive soccer season. Two hundred twenty eight women participated in the study from April to November of that year. They completed an individual registration of injuries and exposure to training and match play throughout the season.

For control in the study a member of each team's medical staff conducted a concurrent registration of injuries and team exposure based on traditional methods.

The doctors used a time-loss injury definition, where an injury is recorded if the player must miss training or a match one day beyond the occurrence of the injury. A complete recovery was when the player could resume participation in team activities.

To collect the individual injury registration and exposure, the study sent out three text messages every Sunday evening. The doctors asked the athletes three questions, one for each message:

  • How many minutes of match play did you do last week?
  • How many hours of training did you do last week?
  • Have you had any injuries or illnesses that has restricted you from full participation in one or more training sessions and/or matches last week?

If the player responded yes or no to the final question, the doctors followed up with a phone call to collect more information about the injury.

Of the 228 players, 205 completed the study. However, only 9 of the 12 teams' medical staff members provided a complete registration. As a result, 159 players from 9 teams were used to compute the final results.

During the season, the players reported a total of 232 unique time-loss injuries. Of these, the individual registration reported 62% (n=144) of injuries, the medical staff reported 10% (n=23), and 28% (n=65) of injuries were reported by both methods. The incidence rate of training injuries was 3.7 per 1, 000 player hours determined by individual registration versus 2.2 from medical staff registration. The match injury incidence rate was 18.6 per 1, 000 player hours when individually reported versus 5.4 when reported by the medical staff.

Agnethe Nilstad, P.T., Ph.D.; Roald Bahr, M.D., Ph.D.; and Thor Einar Andersen, M.D., P.T., Ph.D. reported their findings in the February 2014 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. They titled the study "Text Messaging as a New Method for Injury Registration in Sports: A Methodological Study in Elite Female Football."

The doctors found a significant discrepancy between the two registration methods, which favored the individual registration in terms of the number of injuries recorded. The medical staff missed more than half the injuries, bringing to light possible faults in previous studies that relied on injury registration by the team medical staff. The use of text messaging to record injuries was convenient for the athletes and received a high response rate, suggesting that SMS messages could become a more common method for sports injury registration in the future.


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