Text messaging is a quick and effective way to get
recreational athletes to report injuries, according to a new Australian study.
Playing recreational sports is a good way to get more
exercise, researchers said. But little is known about injuries at that level.
What's more, injury
prevention strategies that work at the elite level aren't necessarily
relevant to recreational leagues – which have different types of players,
different training loads and a different style of play, according to the
study's lead author.
Read: How to save yourself
"Despite making up the broad base of sports
participation, community level sport has largely been neglected in much of
sports medicine research," Christina Ekegren told Reuters Health in an
e-mail. She is a doctoral candidate at Monash University in Melbourne.
At the community level
In order to move this research forward, Ekegren and her
colleagues wanted to find out if text messaging could be used to gather
information on sports injuries at the community level.
They recruited 139 football players from four Australian
community clubs at the beginning of the 2012 season. The researchers sent texts
to players a day or two after each weekly match, asking if the player had
suffered any new injuries. If he responded yes, the researchers called him and
recorded the details of the injury.
During the 18-week season, the researchers sent out 2 516
text messages. A total of 171 injuries were reported by 92 football players.
Almost half of players responded within five minutes after receiving the texts,
the researchers reported in Injury Prevention. "We had an excellent
response rate from players of 90-98% across the football season and the text
responses came in really fast," Ekegren said.
Extremely high response rates
She said the text messaging enabled her team to get accurate
data on injuries. This, in turn, will lead to the development of injury
prevention strategies more applicable to community sports participants, she
said."The strength of these findings is that they had extremely high
response rates over the 18 weeks, and this kind of speaks to simple text
programmes," Dr Brian Suffoletto told Reuters Health.
Suffoletto, from the University of Pittsburgh, was not
involved in the new study but has researched text messaging and emergency
medicine."The greatest weakness is that the programme still involved a high
level of human interaction, so all the prompts resulted in human phone calls.
So, it's not truly a completely automated system, and the authors recognise
this," he said.
you should choose a shoe that fits
Suffoletto said text messaging is ideally suited to
surveying large populations and collecting real-time reporting data. "If
you're going to argue for real-time surveillance, the argument naturally is
that you would want to have real-time interventions to prevent further
injuries. Those have not been totally developed, but they're in the early
stages," Suffoletto said.
Text messaging might seem a bit simplistic compared to more
impressive and complicated smartphone
apps, but he said it's perfect because there's no need to download
anything."The use of text messaging for injury reporting is still in its
infancy but there is great scope to expand its use," Ekegren said.
"Considering the lack of personnel and resources for
tracking injuries in community sport and owing to the ubiquity of mobile
phones, texting has the potential to be convenient for both players and
researchers and may represent a feasible option for future research and injury
tracking," she said.