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Over 40 million individuals nationally participate in organised softball leagues, playing an estimated 23 million games per year in the United States. It has also been estimated that softball causes more injuries leading to emergency room visits in the United States than any other sport. Between 1983 and 1989, over 2.6 million injuries were documented through selected emergency rooms throughout the United States. In addition, the potential costs of these injuries can be staggering, therefore, prevention is of utmost importance. Prior to implementation of any preventative measures, the aetiology and distribution of injuries must be ascertained. Softball-related injuries can be grouped into 3 categories: (a) sliding-related injuries — the most common injury scenario; (b) collision-related injuries; and (c) falls sustained by the player.
Various preventative approaches have been utilised to reduce the incidence of these recreational sports injuries and the associated health care costs. In regard to sliding-related injuries, breakaway bases have been utilised and have been found to reduce sliding-related injuries by approximately 98%. In reference to collision injuries, deformable walls and padded back stops and field maintenance have been found to prevent the majority of injuries secondary to collisions and falls. In additon, better coaching techniques as well as stretching and conditioning programmes have all been found to benefit players in the prevention of their injuries. As physicians, trainers and individuals involved with sporting activities, it is imperative that we turn and focus our attention on prevention. The cornerstone to diminished injuries and subsequent prevention of an injury is a safer environment for the recreational softball player to participate in.
KeywordsAnterior Cruciate Ligament Ankle Sprain Seat Belt Ankle Fracture Medical Care Cost
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