Australia is known for having a proud and passionate sporting culture. But we all know that taking part in sports does not come without risks. According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), almost 60,000 people are hospitalised due to a sports injury every given year.
A recent survey conducted by Sports Australia found that about 895 Australian adults participate in any form of sports. 62% of participants play sports at least three times a day.
It is scientifically proven the positive benefits that potentially come from playing sports. These include improved heart health, decreased stroke and diabetes, weight management, and reduced blood pressure. Playing sports has also proven an effective way to relieve stress, promote better sleeping habits, and improve mental health.
Here are 5 of the most common sports injuries in Australia and their First Aid equivalent.
Fractures account for 49% of sports injuries reported last reported in 2011-2012. Fractures, otherwise known as broken bones, may be caused by overuse, trauma, crash, or non-traumatic mechanisms. While most fractures need medical attention, some cases will need enough rest to heal themselves.
First Aid for Fractures or Broken Bones
- Stop any bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. Use a sterile bandage or clean cloth as a barrier when applying pressure.
- Immobilise the injury. Do not try to realign the bone or push it back in. Apply a splint to the fracture sites only if you are professionally trained.
- Apply ice packs to the fracture to limit swelling and help relieve pain.
- Treat for shock, if necessary.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries, especially in netball, basketball, and football. Sprains occur when the ligaments in the ankle are twisted or torn from sudden movements. The chance of your ankle spraining is increased by having poor playing surfaces, inappropriate footwear, and lack of flexibility.
First Aid for Ankle Sprains
- Rest the injured limb for 48 to 72 hours after the injury.
- Ice the area using a cold pack or a compression sleeve filled with cold water.
- Compress the injured area with an elastic wrap or bandage.
- Elevate the injury above heart level to help prevent or limit swelling.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that are a surprisingly common occurrence in sports. A concussion occurs in a wide range of sports and can affect little leaguers to professional players. They mostly occur in close-contact sports such as football, ice hockey, and soccer.
First Aid for Concussions (Head Injuries)
If the casualty is conscious:
- Follow DRSABCD
- Lay the person down and slightly raise their head and shoulders. Use a pillow or soft object when doing so.
- Lift the person’s chin to ensure the airway is open
- If the injury is bleeding, examine for wounds to ensure no signs of a depressed fracture. If there are no signs, the next best thing to do is to control the bleeding.
- Call triple zero (000) for further medical assistance.
If the casualty is unconscious:
- Move the person into the recovery position (on their side)
- Check, clear, and open the airway
- Monitor and record breathing levels while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
Dislocations rank third of the most common sports injury. In fact, it accounts for at least 7% of all sports injuries. Dislocations occur when two connected bones slip out of a joint. It is usually a result of a traumatic event such as a fall or collision during high-speed sports.
Dislocations often require prompt medical attention to return bones to their normal position.
First Aid for Dislocations
- Stop the injured joint from moving. Use a sling if the dislocation is in the shoulder or elbow. If you suspect a dislocated ankle, knee, or hip joint, use padding or broad-fold bandages.
- Send the person to the nearest hospital or call Triple Zero (000) for emergency help.
- While waiting for help, watch for signs of shock.
- Check the circulation from the bandages every 10 minutes. Loosen the bandage if necessary.
Open wounds often occur in sports, games, and other physical activities. Open wounds may vary in severity – from having cuts and scraped knees to severe life-threatening injuries.
First Aid for Open Wounds
- Stop the bleeding by applying gentle pressure to the opening of the wound.
- Clean the wound and rinse it with clean water and soap.
- Apply a thin later of prescribed antibiotic ointment to keep the wound surface moist. It will also help prevent scarring.
- Cover the wound using a bandage to keep it clean. If the injury is just minor cuts or scrapes, leave the wound uncovered.
- See professional help if you see signs of infection on the skin or near the wound. Look for the following infection symptoms: redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth, or swelling.
Sports injuries often come from tackles, falls, and jarring – which are frequent parts of every game. In most sports injuries, there is not much you can do to prevent them from occurring. It is why coaches, trainers, staff, and even parents need to respond with First Aid when an injury occurs.
The speed and quality of First Aid provided to these sports’ injuries can have a major impact on the outcome. By ensuring everyone is First Aid ready, you are guaranteeing the athlete’s safety as they focus on bringing the title home.
Consider getting a First Aid course if you are involved in any sports, whether you are a player, a coach, or supporting a team.