Injury prevention is one of the Australian National Health Priority Areas.1 Injuries requiring medical attention place considerable demands on the health care system and are increasingly being recognised as a significant public health problem.2 Recent statewide data from Victoria show that the public health burden of sports injury, as a particular context for hospitalised injury, has increased significantly in recent times.3,4 Understanding whether sports injury rates vary by geographic regions in Vic would inform better health service delivery to redress identified health inequalities across regions and aid targeting of preventive programs.
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 100000 participants overall and for specific sports; and percentage change in frequency and hospitalisation rate per 100000 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 $17944799. 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 100000 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.