Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That Hurts! - Part 2

In my last entry , we reviewed the injuries to women collegiate basketball players.

Now, let's look at the men's injuries.

In their recent Journal of Athletic Training article researchers reveiwed 16 years of NCAA injury surveillance data for men's basketball to identify the types and locations of injuries these athletes sustained.

They found that:

* Approximately 60% of all injuries were to the lower extremity, with ankle sprains being the most common injury overall (26%).

* 1 out of every 4 ankle sprains was a repeat ankle injury ((Please see my previous posts about ankle injuries and their rehabilitation and get yourself into an appropriate program so this doesn't happen to you!).

* Other common injuries included knee injuries (10%), thigh and hip bruises (3.9%) and concussions (3.6%).

* A player was more than twice as likely to sustain an ankle or knee injury in a game than during practice and was 3 times as likely to sustain a concussion in a game as in a practice (This is not surprising since practices are a more controlled and *sometimes* less intense setting than games).

* A trend of increasing incidence of injuries to the head and face was noted over the course of the study with an average increase of 6% each year.

Like the women, the men's college game is getting more and more physical. As the athletes get bigger and stronger, and the court stays the same dimensions, physical contact has become the "dominant cause of player injury".

The authors of this article felt that "the increased in head and facial injuries may indicate that officials need to assess the increased tolerance for physical contact", that is, call the game closer. We also need to encourage the use of mouth guards, but that's another blog entry .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That Hurts! - Part 1

Last month, I spoke about the Perils of Pre-Season, the increased injury rate in pre-season college basketball practices noted in an article from the latest edition of the Journal of Athletic Training.

This month, let's take a closer look at the types of injuries found during men's and women's college basketball play between 1988-2004.

Ladies First .

In this study, researchers reviewed data from the NCAA's Injury Surveillance System to look at the types of injuries sustained by female college basketball players in Divisions I, II and III.

The first interesting piece of information is the number of programs fielding teams. Between 1988 and 2003, the number of varsity women's basketball teams increased 34% from 766 schools to 1026. This likely reflects the significant increase in participation by female athletes and bodes well for the future of the sport.

Now to some of the findings:

Over the 16 years of the study, the rate of injury in a game situation was almost twice as high as the rate in practice. (This is not surprising since practices are a more controlled and *sometimes* less intense setting than games).

More than 60% of all game and practice injuries were to the lower extremities (hips, thighs, knees, ankle, feet).

In both games and practices, ankle injuries were the most common injuries. Of these, 30% were identified as being a repeat injury to an already injured ankle. (Please see my previous posts about ankle injuries and their rehabilitation and get yourself into an appropriate program so this doesn't happen to you!).

Other common game injuries included knee injuries (contact and non-contact) and concussions. Yep, that's right, concussions were 3 times more likely to occur in games vs. practices. This demonstrates that women's basketball is a fast-paced, physical game where heads, elbows and knees often collide.

Anterior cruciate ligamen (ACL) injuries accounted for 8% of game injuries - with more than half of them happening without contact. (There are many risk factors that cause female basketball players to have a 3-6 times greater incidence of ACL injuries. While some factors cannot be changed, there are neuromuscular training programs that have proven to be effective in reducing ACL injur risk and every basketball coach should know about them and integrate them into their players' training).

One other concerning finding was the increasing trend in the rate of stress fractures in the bones of the lower leg and foot. While this could be due to improvements in the technology used to diagnose these injuries, it can also be due to poor footwear (when are players going to stop wearing smaller versions of men's shoes and put on a well-made women's basketball shoe?) poor nutrition (anorexia, low calcium and vitamin D intake, etc.), and insufficient recovery time between games and training sessions.

The authors state that "As the size of players and the speed of the women's game continue to increase, basketball will complete the evolution from a finesse sport to more of a high-risk contact sport". I think that this has already happened and coaches, parents, and trainers need to work together to help reduce the risk of injury for these players so that they can continue to play, and learn from, the game.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wishes for a Speedy Recovery

Just wanted to send out wishes for a speedy recovery to Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers.

First it was hand surgery at Ohio State, then it was inflamed tonsils during the NBA Summer League and now, it's cartilage damage in his right knee.

He underwent microfracture surgery yesterday and may miss this entire season. Many times, an athlete feels that s/he is defined by what is done on the court, and can become depressed and angry when an injury prevents them from playing.

I hope that Mr Oden understands that his job now is the same as it is for any injured basketball player - to rest, recover, and work hard in rehabilitation so that when he returns to the court, he'll be in better shape and better able to contribute to his team.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Names, Not Numbers

Last week, to honor Coach Roy Williams' induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Raleigh News & Observer published a special keepsake poster in their Sports Section.

Unfortunately, they missed a golden opportunity to recognize the essence of what Coach Williams is about. By focusing on "his" number of wins, numbers of NCAA tournament appearances and winning percentage, the paper did him a disservice.

If they really wanted to illustrate his impact, they should have written the names of every player he's ever coached in the background of his photo.
While I understand that a coach is usually evaluated by his won/loss record, the true measure (and example) of a great coach is not the numbers of wins or losses; it's the positive effect they have had on the people around them.