Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Self-reported sports injuries and later-life health status in 3357 retired Olympians from 131 countries: a cross-sectional survey among those competing in the games between London 1948 and PyeongChang 2018

Palmer, Debbie; Cooper, Dale J.; Emery, Carolyn; Batt, Mark E.; Engebretsen, Lars; Scammell, Brigitte E.; Schamasch, Patrick; Shroff, Malav; Soligard, Torbjorn; Steffen, Kathrin; Whittaker, Jackie L.; Budgett, Richard

Authors

Debbie Palmer

Dale J. Cooper

Carolyn Emery

Mark E. Batt

Lars Engebretsen

Brigitte E. Scammell

Patrick Schamasch

Malav Shroff

Torbjorn Soligard

Kathrin Steffen

Jackie L. Whittaker

Richard Budgett



Abstract

Objective: Describe the self-reported prevalence and nature of Olympic-career injury and general health and current residual symptoms in a self-selected sample of retired Olympians.

Methods: 3357 retired Olympians from 131 countries completed a cross-sectional online survey, distributed by direct email through World Olympians Association and National Olympian Associations databases. The survey captured Olympic sport exposure, significant training and competition injury history (lasting >1 month), general health (eg, depression) during the athlete’s career, and current musculoskeletal pain and functional limitations.

Results: 55% were men (44% women, 1% unknown), representing 57 sports (42 Summer, 15 Winter), aged 44.7 years (range 16–97). A total of 3746 injuries were self-reported by 2116 Olympians. This equated, 63.0% (women 68.1%, men 59.2%) reporting at least one significant injury during their Olympic career. Injury prevalence was highest in handball (82.2%) and lowest in shooting (40.0%) for Summer Olympians; and highest in alpine skiing (82.4%) and lowest in biathlon (40.0%) for Winter Olympians. The knee was the most frequently injured anatomical region (20.6%, 120 median days severity), followed by the lumbar spine (13.1%, 100 days) and shoulder/clavicle (12.9%, 92 days). 6.6% of Olympians said they had experienced depression during their career. One-third of retired Olympians reported current pain (32.4%) and functional limitations (35.9%).

Conclusions: Almost two-thirds of Olympians who completed the survey reported at least one Olympic-career significant injury. The knee, lumbar spine and shoulder/clavicle were the most commonly injured anatomical locations. One-third of this sample of Olympians attributed current pain and functional limitations to Olympic-career injury.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 9, 2020
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date May 1, 2020
Print ISSN 0306-3674
Electronic ISSN 1473-0480
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 1
Pages 46-53
DOI https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-101772
Keywords Olympian, retired, Olympic-career, sport, injury, pain, health
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2657313