In 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball to condition athletes during cold months in Massachusetts. He used a soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to the gym balcony. Today’s fast-paced game of basketball can result in acute/traumatic or overuse injuries. It is estimated that more than 1.6 million injuries are associated with basketball each year.
A study of high school basketball players by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) provides injury data:
- 22% of all male basketball players sustained at least one time-loss injury each year.
- 42% of the injuries were to the ankle/foot, 11% hip and thigh, and 9% knee.
- Sprains were the most common injury (43%).
- General trauma was the second most common type of injury (22%).
- 60% of the injuries occurred during practice, highlighting the need to warm up.
- 59% of game-related injuries occurred during the second half of the game, which identifies fatigue as a predisposing factor.
The following safety precautions are recommended to help prevent basketball injuries:
- Have a preseason physical examination.
- Maintain balanced fitness during the off-season with aerobic exercise, strength and flexibility training.
- Warm up and stretch prior to playing or training.
- Use appropriate equipment: supportive, non-skid basketball shoes, ankle supports, protective knee and elbow pads, mouth guard, and safety glasses.
- Ensure a safe environment: courts free of debris, proper lighting, padded poles, and boundaries away from structures.
- Learn and use proper techniques for passing and scoring.
- Hydrate adequately: drink 24 ounces of fluid 2 hours before exercise and 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes during exercise.
- Avoid overuse injuries: decrease training time and intensity if feeling pain or discomfort.
- Coaches and/or athletic trainers knowledgeable and able to provide first aid for minor injuries and assess medical emergencies.
- Plan in place for emergencies: the location of the nearest DOC for any musculoskeletal injury or overuse condition, and the location of the nearest ER for other, non-orthopedic medical emergencies.
- Return to play after any injury when cleared by a DOC orthopedic surgeon, PA, physical therapist or other healthcare professional.