A systematic approach to the characterisation of human impact injury scenarios in sport

Background: In contact sports (e.g. American football or rugby), injuries resulting from impacts are widespread. There have been several attempts to identify and collate, within a conceptual framework, factors influencing the likelihood of an injury. To effectively define an injury event it is necessary to systematically consider all potential causal factors but none of the previous approaches are complete in this respect. Aims: Firstly, to develop a superior deterministic contextual sequential (DCS) model to promote a complete and logical description of interrelated injury event factors. Secondly, to demonstrate systematic use of the model to construct enhanced perspectives for impact-injury research. Method: Previous models were examined and elements of best practice synthesised into a new DCS framework description categorising the types of causal factors influencing injury. The approach’s internal robustness is demonstrated by consideration of its completeness, lack of redundancy, and logical consistency. Results: The model’s external validity and worth are demonstrated through its use to generate superior descriptive injury models, experimental protocols and intervention opportunities. Comprehensive research perspectives have been developed using a common rugby impact-injury scenario as an example; this includes: a detailed description of the injury event, an experimental protocol for a human-on-surrogate reconstruction, and a series of practical interventions in the sport of rugby aimed at mitigating the risk of injury. Conclusions: Our improved characterisation tool presents a structured approach to identify pertinent factors relating to an injury.