Australian sports injuries fall amid COVID-19 restrictions
Published: Mar 23, 2022 07:08 PM
The number of Australians admitted to hospital for injuries sustained while playing sports fell by thousands in the first months of COVID-19 restrictions, a study has found.

According to a report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on Wednesday, 7,800 fewer Australians were hospitalized with sports injuries in the financial year 2019-20 than in 2018-19.

The drop coincides with restrictions on organized sports that were introduced in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"There were 52,300 Australians hospitalized for sports injuries in 2019-20, compared with 60,000 in 2018-19," AIHW spokesperson Marissa Veld said in a media release.

The biggest falls were from injuries sustained while playing traditional winter sports that usually begin at around the time restrictions were introduced.

The number of people hospitalized with Australian rules football injuries fell 46 percent, followed by a 43 percent drop in rugby injuries and 34 percent fewer soccer injuries.

However, as people turned to solo activities, the number of injuries related to roller sport and cycling injuries increased by 27 and 21 percent, respectively.

Cycling accounted for 15 percent of all injuries, with injuries to hips and legs the most common followed by shoulders and arms.

More than half of all hospitalizations were for fractured bones.

More than twice as many males were hospitalized with sports injuries than females.

"Of the 7,800 fewer hospitalizations in 2019-20, males accounted for over 80 percent [6,300] of the reduction, likely due to the types of sports that males tend to play during the winter when COVID-19 restrictions started, such as AFL [Australian Football League] and rugby," Veld said.

"Males aged 15 to 19 had the highest rate of hospitalized injury [745 per 100,000], and for females the highest rate was recorded in those aged 10 to 14 [274 per 100,000]."