Session availability as a result of prior injury impacts the risk of subsequent injury in elite male Australian footballers

Joshua D. Ruddy, Samuel Pietsch, Nirav Maniar, Stuart Cormack, Ryan G Timmins, Morgan Williams, David Carey, David A Opar

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Prior injury is a commonly identified risk factor for subsequent injury. However, a binary approach to classifying prior injury (i.e., yes/no) is commonly implemented and may constrain scientific findings, as it is possible that variations in the amount of time lost due to an injury will impact subsequent injury risk to differing degrees. Accordingly, this study investigated whether session availability, a surrogate marker of prior injury, influenced the risk of subsequent non-contact lower limb injury in Australian footballers. Data were collected from 62 male elite Australian footballers throughout the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Australian Football League seasons. Each athlete’s participation status (i.e., full or missed/modified) and any injuries that occurred during training sessions/matches were recorded. As the focus of the current study was prior injury, any training sessions/matches that were missed due to reasons other than an injury (e.g., load management, illness and personal reasons) were removed from the data prior to all analyses. For every Monday during the in-season periods, session availability (%) in the prior 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, and 84 days was determined as the number of training sessions/matches fully completed (injury free) relative to the number of training sessions/matches possible in each window. Each variable was modeled using logistic regression to determine its impact on subsequent injury risk. Throughout the study period, 173 non-contact lower limb injuries that resulted in at least one missed/modified training session or match during the in-season periods occurred. Greater availability in the prior 7 days increased injury probabilities by up to 4.4%. The impact of session availability on subsequent injury risk diminished with expanding windows (i.e., availability in the prior 14 days through to the prior 84 days). Lesser availability in the prior 84 days increased injury probabilities by up to 14.1%, only when coupled with greater availability in the prior 7 days. Session availability may provide an informative marker of the impact of prior injury on subsequent injury risk and can be used by coaches and clinicians to guide the progression of training, particularly for athletes that are returning from long periods of injury.
Original languageEnglish
Article number737
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019


  • injury risk
  • prior injury
  • Australian football
  • logistic regression
  • injury prevention


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