Increasing incidence of hospitalisation for sport-related concussion in Victoria, Australia

Caroline F Finch, Angela J Clapperton and Paul McCrory
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (8): 427-430. || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11217


Objective: To describe trends in hospitalisation for sport-related concussion.

Design, setting and patients: Analysis of routinely collected hospital admissions data from all Victorian hospitals (public and private) over the 2002–03 to 2010–11 financial years for patients aged ≥ 15 years with a diagnosis of concussion and an ICD-10-AM external cause activity code indicating sport.

Main outcome measures: Number and cost of hospitalisations; rate of hospitalisation per 100 000 participants overall and for specific sports; and percentage change in frequency and hospitalisation rate per 100 000 participants over 9 years.

Results: There were 4745 hospitalisations of people aged ≥ 15 years for sport-related concussion, with a total hospital treatment cost of $17 944 799. The frequency of hospitalisation increased by 60.5% (95% CI, 41.7%–77.3%) over the 9 years, but could only partially be explained by increases in sports participation, as the rate per 100 000 participants also increased significantly, by 38.9% (95% CI, 17.5%–61.7%). After adjustment for participation, rates were highest for motor sports, equestrian activities, Australian football, rugby and roller sports. The greatest significant increases in rates were seen in roller sports, rugby, soccer and cycling.

Conclusions: The frequency and participation-adjusted rate of hospitalisation for sport-related concussion, both overall and across several sports, increased significantly over the 9 years. These findings, along with high levels of public concern, make prevention of head injury in sport a population health priority in Australia.

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  • Caroline F Finch1
  • Angela J Clapperton2
  • Paul McCrory3

  • 1 Centre for Healthy and Safe Sport, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, VIC.
  • 2 Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Florey Neurosciences Institute, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.



This study was partially funded by a grant from Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) within the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development, and from funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Caroline Finch was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellowship (ID: 565900), and Paul McCrory by an NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship. Angela Clapperton was supported by the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit's core grant from the Victorian Department of Health.

Competing interests:

Caroline Finch receives, or has previously received, competitive research funding from the following bodies for research into concussion or head injury in sport and its prevention: NHMRC, Australian Research Council (ARC), IOC, International Rugby Board (IRB), Australian Football League Research Board (AFLRB), Australian Rugby Union, SRV and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). Paul McCrory currently receives financial research support from the NHMRC, University of Melbourne, IOC, SRV and Eastern Health; his previous competitive grant funding includes the ARC, IRB, University of Melbourne, University of Otago, National Hockey League (US), VicHealth, AFLRB, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and the Australian Sports Commission. He has received travel funding from the Medical Commission of the IOC, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the American Academy of Neurology and the Jockey Club (UK). He receives book royalties from McGraw-Hill and from 2001 to 2008 was employed by the BMJ Publishing Group. He has conducted clinical drug trials on antimigraine (Glaxo Wellcome, Janssen-Cilag, Novartis, Parke-Davis; Schering) and antispasticity drugs (Ipsen) through the Eastern Clinical Research Unit in Melbourne. This drug trial work has not involved any financial payment to him directly. He received consultancy fees in 2010 from Axon Sports (US) for the development of educational material (which was not renewed) and has received support since 2005 from CogState Inc for research costs and the development of educational material. He is a cofounder and shareholder in two biomedical companies (involved in e-health and compression garment technologies) but does not hold any individual shares in any company related to concussion or brain injury assessment or technology. Angela Clapperton has no relevant disclosures.

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