Surf Life Saving Injuries in New Zealand Between 2013 to 2017 Derived From Accident Compensation Corporation Claims: Technical Report #4 to Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ)
Diewald, SN; Hume, P; Malpas, K; Wilson, BD; Wooler, A; Merrett, R; Fong, DTP; Reay, S; Smith, V
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Background: Due to their speed and manoeuvrability, inflatable rescue boats (IRB) were thought to be associated with increased risk of injury by Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ). Purpose: This study aimed to quantify the nature and extent of IRB‐related injury as reported to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in order to develop injury prevention strategies. Methods: A total of 956 moderate‐to‐serious injury (MSC) claims filed with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) from 2013 to 2017 were retrospectively analysed to provide epidemiological data and related costs. The “sequence of injury prevention” approach proposed by van Mechelen, Hlobil  was utilised to identify risk factors, causes, and mechanisms in order to prescribe injury prevention strategies. Results: IRBs accounted for 605 (63.3%) MSC claims for surf lifesaving, costing ACC $875,585. The incidence of injury (IR) from 2013 to 2017 was 103 per 1,000 surf lifesavers; an average of 0.41 IRB‐related claims lodged per day. The most frequently injured body sites were the lower back (IR: 20/1000) and ankle (IR: 14/1000). Cause of injury was reported as landing in the IRB (IR: 23/1000). Utilisation of IRBs during surf lifesaving has a risk of injury to the lower extremities and back, particularly in younger females and to the right side of the body. Gender was statistically related to age of injury; incidence of injury for males over the age of 60 was 318 per 1,000 lifesavers. Discussion: The nature of the injury mechanisms may contribute to the development of chronic symptoms. Results are most likely an underestimate due to crude incidence rates. Future research should evaluate current techniques, as well as consider strength intervention strategies in preventing IRB‐related injuries. Conclusion: IRB‐related ACC claims lodged for surf lifesaving per‐day are high. Targeted injury prevention strategies must focus on lower back and ankle injuries.