Author(s): Quarrie KL, Gianotti SM, Hopkins WG, Hume PA
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of RugbySmart, a nationwide educational injury prevention programme, on the frequency of spinal cord injuries. DESIGN: Ecological study. SETTING: New Zealand rugby union. PARTICIPANTS: Population at risk of injury comprised all New Zealand rugby union players. INTERVENTION: From 2001, all New Zealand rugby coaches and referees have been required to complete RugbySmart, which focuses on educating rugby participants about physical conditioning, injury management, and safe techniques in the contact phases of rugby. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Numbers of all spinal injuries due to participation in rugby union resulting in permanent disablement in 1976-2005, grouped into five year periods; observed compared with predicted number of spinal injuries in 2001-5. RESULTS: Eight spinal injuries occurred in 2001-5, whereas the predicted number was 18.9 (relative rate=0.46, 95\% confidence interval 0.19 to 1.14). Only one spinal injury resulted from scrums over the period; the predicted number was 9.0 (relative rate=0.11, 0.02 to 0.74). Corresponding observed and predicted rates for spinal injuries resulting from other phases of play (tackle, ruck, and maul) were 7 and 9.0 (relative rate=0.83, 0.29 to 2.36). CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of the RugbySmart programme coincided with a reduction in the rate of disabling spinal injuries arising from scrums in rugby union. This study exemplifies the benefit of educational initiatives in injury prevention and the need for comprehensive injury surveillance systems for evaluating injury prevention initiatives in sport.
This article was published in BMJ
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research