Providing access to timely data to prevent sports injuries

CIHI data explores sports-related injuries

Sports-related injuries are a hot topic these days. From the highest levels of professional athletes to the neighbourhood kids playing on school or community teams, the spotlight is shining on the risks inherent in the games we play.

CIHI releases updated data on sport-related injuries every year. Health care decision-makers value this kind of data to observe trends and inform their actions. 

Preventing injuries on the playing field

Data users

So who uses data like this? One example is Parachute Canada, an organization that helps Canadians avoid preventable injuries, focusing on motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries and seniors’ falls.

“We want people to be active and fully engaged in their lives, but preventable injuries are a big burden,” said Pamela Fuselli, Parachute Canada’s vice president of Knowledge Transfer and Stakeholder Relations. “We want people to be aware of what they can do — and also what can be done by municipalities or legislators or standards creators — because all of that together is the most effective in reducing preventable injuries.”

Finding relevant data

One of the challenges Parachute Canada faces is finding relevant data and trying to interpret the context around that data.

“Sometimes an increase can be totally attributed to the way we’re capturing the data. It could be that when the public becomes very aware , more reports come in,” Fuselli said. “We’re not necessarily surprised when we see an increase in those types of scenarios, because we don’t anticipate that it’s an increase in the actual number of cases. It’s more around the reporting.”

CIHI data in use

CIHI’s work is to provide health care decision-makers with the information they need to steer the system. In this case, Parachute Canada has a new resource to mine for data as it decides where efforts need to focus to avoid preventable injuries.

“It shows us where we need to target our messaging. The data is the starting point and then the challenge is to understand the context, which is sometimes more difficult,” said Fuselli.

What’s next?

Recognizing that a clear understanding of concussions in Canada would be useful for health care planners and providers, CIHI will be releasing data in July that focuses specifically on sports-related concussions and other intracranial injuries. The data covers 13 sports and 5 years (from 2010 to 2015) and gives us a look at how many Canadians went to the emergency department or were hospitalized for sports-related concussions.

“The 2 challenges we always face are access to data and access to timely data, so this is incredibly timely,” Fuselli said.

Want to know more?

Parachute Canada is a national charity focused on injury prevention. It is leading, inspiring and mobilizing Canadians of all ages, while building awareness and understanding about preventable injury to keep Canadians safe at home, at play and on the road. Learn more about the cost of injury in Canada from its recent report, or find out how it is championing child safety by visiting the Safe Kids Week web page for educational tools and resources.