Collecting health and exposure data in Australian Olympic combat sports: Feasibility study utilizing an electronic system
Journal of Medical Internet Research
Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Background: Electronic methods are increasingly being used to manage health-related data among sporting populations. Collection of such data permits the analysis of injury and illness trends, improves early detection of injuries and illnesses, collectively referred to as health problems, and provides evidence to inform prevention strategies. The Athlete Management System (AMS) has been employed across a range of sports to monitor health. Australian combat athletes train across the country without dedicated national medical or sports science teams to monitor and advocate for their health. Employing a Web-based system, such as the AMS, May provide an avenue to increase the visibility of health problems experienced by combat athletes and deliver key information to stakeholders detailing where prevention programs May be targeted.
Objective: The objectives of this paper are to (1) report on the feasibility of utilizing the AMS to collect longitudinal injury and illness data of combat sports athletes and (2) describe the type, location, severity, and recurrence of injuries and illnesses that the cohort of athletes experience across a 12-week period.
Methods: We invited 26 elite and developing athletes from 4 Olympic combat sports (boxing, judo, taekwondo, and wrestling) to participate in this study. Engagement with the AMS was measured, and collected health problems (injuries or illnesses) were coded using the Orchard Sports Injury Classification System (version 10.1) and International Classification of Primary Care (version 2). Results: Despite >160 contacts, athlete engagement with online tools was poor, with only 13% compliance across the 12-week period. No taekwondo or wrestling athletes were compliant. Despite low overall engagement, a large number of injuries or illness were recorded across 11 athletes who entered data—22 unique injuries, 8 unique illnesses, 30 recurrent injuries, and 2 recurrent illnesses. The most frequent injuries were to the knee in boxing (n=41) and thigh in judo (n=9). In this cohort, judo players experienced more severe, but less frequent, injuries than boxers, yet judo players sustained more illnesses than boxers. In 97.0% (126/130) of cases, athletes in this cohort continued to train irrespective of their health problems.
Conclusions: Among athletes who reported injuries, many reported multiple conditions, indicating a need for health monitoring in Australian combat sports. A number of factors May have influenced engagement with the AMS, including access to the internet, the design of the system, coach views on the system, previous experiences with the system, and the existing culture within Australian combat sports. To increase engagement, there May be a requirement for sports staff to provide relevant feedback on data entered into the system. Until the Barriers are addressed, it is not feasible to implement the system in its current form across a larger cohort of combat athletes.