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November 3, 2005

Preventive Injury Strategies Not Scientifically Solid

Review of Adult Softball Injury Studies Reveals Limited Research

Softball injury prevention strategies, such as the use of lower-profile bases and teaching better sliding techniques, are not sufficiently scientifically supported, according to new research data from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Injury Research and Policy and the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. The research indicates that not enough studies have investigated these bases and other injury-reduction practices. The study is in the October 2005 issue of the journal Injury Prevention.

“Researchers often suggest interventions to prevent softball injuries, when the truth is that the strong evidence is simply not there. More research is needed to not only fully understand the scope of the injury problems for softball players, but also to identify the most cost-effective strategies to prevent injuries,” said Keshia Pollack, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and a recent graduate from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Hopkins-led research team reviewed 39 studies of softball injuries published between 1970 and 2003 to determine what types of injuries were suffered by softball players and what strategies were used to decrease injury. They found that a variety of injuries to the knees, ankles, hands, fingers, head and neck happen during softball games and that sliding into second and third bases, as well as collisions or falls while attempting to catch a ball, are hazardous. The authors found that a range of prevention methods, such as using breakaway bases, teaching better sliding techniques, using lower-profile bases or allowing runners to overrun second and third bases, were used in the softball games studied. Although studies covered this range of interventions, the evidence for any particular intervention, except for breakaway bases, was weak.

Susan P. Baker, MPH

Susan P.Baker

“Rather than simply implementing an intervention because we think it sounds good, we really need to look at intervention-evaluation studies, which as a whole are lacking in the field of sports injury prevention,” said Susan P. Baker, MPH, co-author of the study and a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management and Center for Injury Research and Policy.

Co-authors of the study are K. M. Pollack, M. Canham-Chervak, C. Gazal-Carvalho, B. H. Jones and S. P. Baker.

“Interventions to prevent softball-related injuries: a review of the literature” was supported by grants from the Health Promotion and Prevention Initiatives Program of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.