Fewer, but more serious injuries at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics than in previous Olympics
Athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics suffered fewer but more serious injuries than in previous Olympics, with newly introduced sports taekwondo and badminton ranking among them Sports have the highest injury rates, according to research published online in the journal British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The findings prompted researchers to call precautions as well as risk reduction strategies to enhance athlete safety in the future Paralympics.
The researchers note that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are being held under unprecedented circumstances because of COVID-19.
They argue that the pandemic also means fewer opportunities for meaningful practice and competition in the run-up to the Olympics — which, combined with additional infection control measures, could affect performance and even injury risk.
To further explore this and assess whether the newly introduced sports of taekwondo and badminton pose any specific injury risk, the researchers gathered three sources of information for 23 sport over a 15-day period. This includes 3 days before the contest.
Sources include the International Paralympic Committee’s overall list of athletes by age (12-25; 26-34; and 35-75), gender, and sport, plus statistics daily about injuries reported by national medical teams and clinicians at designated medical facilities. clinic.
In total, 4403 athletes (1853 women, 2550 men) from 162 countries were followed over a 15-day period.
During this time, 386 injuries were reported in 352 athletes in all 23 sports, with an overall injury rate of 8%. This is lower than the rates seen in previous Paralympics, including the 2012 London Olympics (12%) and the 2016 Rio Olympics (12%).
The sport with the highest injury rate is 5-a-side football, with 16 injuries out of 62 athletes (23%), closely followed by nascent taekwondo, with 17 injuries out of 71 athletes (21%).
Third in the injury ranking is judo (21 injuries out of 138 competitors; 15%) and fourth is another newly introduced badminton, with 12 injuries out of 90 opponents (13%). .
Most injuries occur suddenly rather than have a gradual onset: 5% vs 1%. And most (342) are involved in sports participation. More happens in the previous period than in the competition.
Although there was no difference in injury rates between the sexes, older athletes (26-34) were more likely to suffer injuries than younger athletes.
Of the total number of reported injuries, approximately one-third (133; 34.5%) caused athletes to stop training or competing for an estimated period of more than one day. This is higher than the equivalent figure (25%) for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Twenty-one (16%) injuries were classified as moderately serious (took 8-28 days) and 10 (7.5%) were classified as severe (took 28 days-3 months).
Two serious injuries have been recorded in the sports of taekwondo, cycling and sitting volleyball. The most serious injuries include fractureretinal detachment, pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee.
The highest total number of days lost occurred in athletics (195). But proportionally, the highest number of losses was in taekwondo (79), followed by 5-a-side football (49.5), judo (33), badminton (21.5) and table tennis (nearly 14). .
It’s not clear why athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are less prone to injuries, the researchers say.
“Over the past decade there have been significant developments in the education and practice of sports physicians, which could translate into improved medical management and strategies to prevent injury over time. However, it is not known whether these improvements account for the significant reduction in injuries over an Olympic cycle, as seen at the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” they explained.
“Although injury rates have decreased at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, it appears that the injuries encountered are more severe. The frequency of injuries due to loss of time is [also] higher when compared to previous Games,” they added.
And tall wound they point out that the proportion in newly introduced sports of badminton and taekwondo is of particular concern, particularly since taekwondo is also associated with a high number of days off from training and competition.
They conclude: “This finding indicates that preventive measures (e.g., rule changes, better preparation for competition, scheduling, rehab practices) and programs (to address intrinsic risks) is essential”.
Injury prevalence and burden at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games held during the COVID-19 pandemic: a prospective cohort study of 66 045 day athletes, British Journal of Sports Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-106234
British Medical Journal
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