Breast injuries reported by female contact football players based on football code, player position and competition level
Introduction: Female athletes involved in contact sports are sustaining injuries to their breasts. Limited research, however, has characterised breast injuries reported by female contact football players. This study aimed to investigate the occurrence, causes and perceived performance effects of contact breast injuries reported by females participating in contact football by code, player position and competition level. Awareness and perceptions of these injuries by staff associated with female contact football teams were also examined. Methods: A custom-designed breast injury survey was completed by 297 female Australian Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union (XVs) and Rugby 7s players, and a staff survey was completed by 242 coaching and medical staff associated with female contact football teams. Results: Fifty-eight percent of players reported ever experiencing a contact breast injury and 48% perceived that their injury affected their football performance. Football code and player position were significantly associated with causes of contact breast injury, whereas competition level was significantly associated with perceptions of performance effects. Half of the coaches and medical professionals surveyed were not aware that breast injuries were a problem for female contact football players. Conclusion: Athletes, coaches and medical professionals may benefit from education on the potential for contact breast injuries so that these injuries can be prevented and managed.