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A Review of Rugby Union and League Australian Spinal Cord Injury Datasets – A Look at the Past and Future Expectations

Deborah J Hilton

 DOI :


This review identifies Australian datasets that report spinal cord injuries [SCI] in rugby union [RU] and rugby league [RL]. SCIs are catastrophic injuries with lifelong consequences.  The Australian literature report rates of injury in football codes occurring in various phases of play over several decades.  In 2007 the International Rugby Football Board [IRFB] introduced a new law governing the scrum rule sequence. The review objective is to enhance the understanding of the consequences of scrum rule changes and other contributing factors to SCI along with providing an overview of the rates of injuries in the codes over several decades. Database and literature searching for manuscripts, reports and thesis that reported SCI where RU to RL injury rates were compared was performed. Search terms included; ‘NSW claims data, Australian SCI Register and spinal unit data’.  The reported rate or odds ratios as reported in manuscripts were identified and tabulated with the rates verified using the Toronto Center for Evidence Based Medicine [CEBM] toolbox EBM Statistical Calculator.  If not originally calculated incidence rates and numbers of participants were utilized to equate the statistic.   Tabulation of reported odds ratios was done and these varied from 1.3-4.0. Calculation of rates in two additional datasets where rates were not reported was also done including an Australian SCI unit dataset [1.8-2.5], while the other was an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW] dataset [2.1].  This review, collation and tabulation of data enhanced the comparison of injury rates enabling viewing of injury trends over several decades.