Prevention of Basketball Injuries

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Basketball has one of the highest injury rates in sports with articles reporting up to 7-10 injuries per 1000 athlete exposures (Dick et al. J Athl Train. 2007).   As expected, the majority of these injuries occur in the lower extremity, in particular within the knee and ankle.  Authors report both overuse (tendinopathy) and traumatic (sprain, strain) injuries account for the high injury rate noted in this sport.  Of all the lower extremity injuries the literature has focused on ACL sprains in the knee and lateral ankle sprains in athletes.  Ankle sprains account for up to 25% of all injuries and have a poor prognosis with many athletes demonstrating balance impairments up to 6 months after the injury (Doherty et al. JOSPT. 2015).  Basketball places unique demands on its' athletes requiring a change of direction every 2-3 seconds during game play (Mathew et al. J Sport Sci. 2009).  These dynamic movements can play stress on the passive structures of the knee and ankle if an athlete is not trained to deal with these loading patterns.  In the last 10 years, there has been a greater focus on the impact of prevention programs in basketball to determine the ability of these programs to limit the number of knee and ankle injuries in athletes.  

A recent systematic review of the available evidence on basketball injury prevention programs was published in Sports Health.  Taylor et al. reviewed 10 studies available on the prevention of lower quarter injuries including ACL injury and ankle sprains.  The authors noted these programs significantly reduced the incidence of lower quarter injuries (Odds Ratio .69), ankle sprains (OR .45), but failed to show a significant reduction in ACL injuries.  This impact on ACL injury is unlike with the proven benefits of ACL prevention among youth soccer athletes.  Athletes wishing to maximize their performance and reduce injury risk should incorporate a combination of strengthening and balance exercises to enhance their body's ability to reduce abnormal loading in basketball.