Basketball injury prevention

FORT RUCKER, ALA. - Winter means more than the arrival of cold weather; it's also the height of basketball fans' favorite time of year.

Most armchair guards know they'll never play in the Big Dance, but they can come close to it - in their minds, at least - while playing organized or pick-up games during winter.

While these games are fun, they can be hazardous.

"Injuries from sports and exercise are one of the leading causes of hospitalizations for the active Army," said Keith Hauret, epidemiologist, Injury Prevention Program, U.S. Army Public Health Command. "But most sports injuries, including basketball injuries, don't require hospitalization."

The 2008 Status of Forces Survey estimates that 10,600 Soldiers were injured playing basketball during the previous year. Nearly one-third of those injuries were sprains, mostly of the ankle and knee, according to USAPHC data.

Besides causing injury, basketball incidents also affect Army readiness.

"It's estimated that an ankle or knee sprain results in an average of 14 days of limited duty," Hauret explained. "So, if some 3,180 Soldiers have a knee or ankle sprain from basketball, we can estimate these injuries will result in about 44,500 days of limited duty each year."

Even while deployed, sports and exercise injuries can take Soldiers out of the fight. From 2003 to 2011, they were the primary cause of non-battle injuries requiring air evacuation from Iraq or Afghanistan, with basketball as the leading activity. During the same time frame, 165 Soldiers were hospitalized in theater for basketball-related injuries.

As with all physical training activities, proper preparation is key to preventing basketball injuries.

Prevention tips include wearing a mouth guard; removing rings, watches and other jewelry; keeping trip hazards such as water bottles and gym bags off the playing floor and away from sidelines; and, for those with previous sprains or injuries, wearing a sports brace at the affected area.

Page last updated Mon December 17th, 2012 at 00:00