The Detailed Epidemiology of Selected Characteristics of Catastrophic Injuries (National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research)

Principal Investigator: KL. Kucera, Director, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research & Assistant Professor

Institution: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Abstract: A catastrophic injury is a potentially life-threatening injury. Some of these events result in permanent disability and/or death.

Aims: To enhance our understanding go sports-related catastrophic injuries through improved surveillance, with a focus on head/neck injuries, commotio cordis injuries, fatal cardiac conditions, and fatal/near-fatal heat-related conditions.

Study Design: Active Surveillance System operated by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, in collaboration with Consortium Partners including the High School RIO and the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention.

Materials and Methods: The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, under the direction of Drs. Fred Mueller and Robert Cantu, has conducted national multi-sport surveillance of catastrophic sports injuries for over 30 years. Following Dr. Mueller’s retirement, the system will be operated by a consortium of universities (University of North Carolina, Boston University, University of Washington, University of Connecticut, University of Colorado) with expertise in head/neck, cardiac, and heat-related sports medicine (these three areas account for the overwhelming majority of catastrophic events). The funding requested in this application will support an expansion of the data collected by the.system. We will collect detailed data on the helmet characteristics (sport, make and model, date of manufacture, date(s) reconditioned, name of reconditioner(s)); playing surface and climatic conditions (rainfall, type of playing surface for artificial surface, estimated hardness for natural surface, and all measurements of temperature and humidity made on the day of the event, with times); any use of chest protectors (make, model, age), and clothing for heat-related events. We will seek to obtain the actual helmet(s), chest protectors, or articles of clothing worn involved in the catastrophic event and archive these personal items so that they can examined at a later date by independent materials and biomechanical experts. Finally, in order to better understand the role of the helmet in head/neck events, we access and archive all medical neuroimaging records.

Main Outcome Measures: Frequencies and percent of catastrophic sport injuries by equipment, clothing, surface, and environmental characteristic. An investigative model for gathering this information and acquiring these items will be developed.

Significance: Although rare, the death of an athlete on a sports field has enormous social significance and imposes medical and lost productivity costs that run into millions of dollars. Better understanding of the characteristics and playing conditions of these events may lead to injury event models that may afford insight into how some types of catastrophic events could potentially be averted.