Increasing physical activity amongst seniors is important for public health, yet guidance is needed to minimise injury risks. To describe the incidence of falls/injuries in a walking team ball game(Lifeball) designed for seniors, a prospective cohort study was undertaken amongst community dwelling Lifeball participants in Australia. Players completed a telephone survey soon after commencing Lifeball (2004) and 12 months later (2005). Attendance and incident records were audited for the period. Subjects joined a Lifeball group with opportunity to play at least once per week. Baseline was completed by 284 players aged between 40 and 96 years (mean 67 years), with most (83.8%, 238/284) female. Of 263 followed up, the average attendances was 25, with 19.3% attending on fewer than 4 occasions and 14.3% attending 52 or more times. Most (93.9%) reported no injuries requiring medical attention. However, 16 (6.1%) had injuries requiring medical attention and their 27 injuries represent an injury rate of 3.3 per 1000 hours of participation. Twenty participants (7.6%) had a Lifeball fall equating to a fall rate of 2.8 per 1000 hours of participation. Falls in Lifeball were not associated with measured predictors (age, gender, falls history, perceived falls risk or hours played). Incident records showed a trip/stumble involving rushing, walking backwards, or overextending (all against rules) as common falling causes. Lifeball is not ‘risk free’ however due to a lack of comparative data it is difficult to compare injury rate to relevant activities. Prevention of injury should concentrate on enforcing safety rules.
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport Vol. 12, Issue 1, p. 177-183