Sports are an enormously popular pastime; recreational
sports constitute a huge proportion of participation
in sports. And yet, likely due to the lack of attention
placed on sports at the recreational level, injuries
in community level sports garner little attention. More
importantly, injuries from recreational sports often
go unreported, creating a large gap in the store of
information available on sports-related injuries.
This may not seem like a significant issue, but it
represents a large problem for the field of sports medicine
research. Researchers lack information on a large proportion
of participants in sports, skewing the tendencies of
their data towards more elite levels of sports participation,
which may produce different figures. Without accurate
information on injuries in sports at the community level,
researchers are hard-pressed to develop strategies to
prevent injuries for recreational participants. Moreover,
recreational sports feature different styles of training
and playing as well as different players from professional-level
sports, so strategies used to prevent injuries in major
leagues may not work as well in community-level sports.
Thankfully, there appears to be a solution: texting.
Christina Ekegren, a doctoral candidate at Monash University
in Melbourne, Australia, has launched a study to test
the ability of texting to help researchers gather accurate
data on sports-related injuries at the recreational
level. Ekegren conducted her study on football players
for the 18-week duration of the 2012 season using 139
recruits from four different Australian community clubs.
One or two days after each weekly match, participants
received a text message asking if they had any new injuries
to report. When they texted back "yes," the researchers
called them to discuss the details.
Over the course of the study, this method totalled
to 2,516 texts sent by Ekegren and her colleagues, in
response to which 92 participants reported 171 injuries.
Texting proved to be a fairly effective mode of keeping
up to date with the football players; the rate of response
hovered between 90 and 98 percent, and responses were
rapid. The abundance of data collected by Ekegren and
her team as well as the high rate of response show texting
to hold great potential for sports medicine research.
This program was, of course, only a trial; further
development is needed before similar models can be more
broadly implemented. One problem facing researchers
is the amount of human contact still involved in Ekegren's
model; while the program was fairly efficient, it still
entailed a researcher calling each participant who reported
an injury, each time they had a new injury. Further
development may seek to make the process more automated
so as to save labor hours.
Ultimately, sports medicine researchers may also seek
to find a means of efficiently gathering real-time data
to ensure speed, accuracy, and efficiency of data collection
and use. Whether this direction is one that also relies
on texting, it is clear that text messaging has a lot
to offer to the realm of sports medicine research.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage,
Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.