Study Suggests Sport Injury Risk Rises on Colder Game Days
About the Sport Injury Study
Previous research and efforts to reduce concussion rates have dealt with internal factors such as helmet design. However, Canadian researchers have recently released a study arguing that external factors, such as the weather, may be equally important to consider in the effort to protect football players from life-threatening head injuries.
In this study, published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, lead study author Dr. David Lawrence and his team from the St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto evaluated the risk factors linked with the five most common NFL injuries during two regular seasons spanning 2012 through 2014.
According to the release, researchers analyzed playing surface, climate factors, travel times, and game outcomes. These researchers discovered that in colder weather NFL players were at a two-fold greater risk of concussions and a one-and-a-half times greater risk of ankle injuries. During this study period, a higher percentage of injuries were observed at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, while fewer were reported in temperatures in excess of 70 degrees.
Speculations Made from the Study
Lawrence notes that the research regarding external risk factors in coordination with injuries in the NFL is slim. Given that this recent study if one of the first to inspect those variables, he admits that currently they can only speculate on the underlying causes for the associations his team observed with specific injuries on game days.
The majority of the injuries reported were knee-related, followed by ankle, hamstring, and shoulder injuries. Throughout the study period, concussions were least commonly reported injury. Lawrence further speculated that fewer concussions may have been reported in hot weather due to the symptoms being mistaken by players and aides for heat-related illnesses.
He also commented that colder temperatures reduce equipment elasticity, potentially increasing the impact force.