Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Medicine

Abstract

Background: Due to breast motion experienced during sport and the vulnerability of the female breasts to injury, breast pain and breast injury are potential issues for female athletes across a range of sports. These issues, however, have never been comprehensively investigated in a diverse cohort of elite female athletes, and therefore the extent to which breast pain and breast injuries occur or affect performance is unknown. Research aim: The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate breast pain and breast injury experienced by female athletes in order to inform future research and provide evidence-based recommendations to manage breast pain and breast injury during sport. Methods: Two main studies were conducted, which are presented in four thesis parts. An exploratory study was first implemented to investigate breast pain (Part I; Chapters 2 & 3) and breast injury (Part II; Chapter 4) in elite female athletes using a valid and reliable custom-designed survey. Based on the unique findings of Part II of this thesis, a second study was implemented to investigate the current breast injury and breast injury prevention situation in female contact football players, using a custom-designed survey and a physical assessment (Part III; Chapters 5 & 6). Three-dimensional scanning was then used to characterise the breasts and torsos of female contact football players in order to inform the future design of breast protective equipment for female contact football players (Part IV; Chapter 7). Major conclusion: Based on the results of this thesis, which established that breast pain and breast injury are real issues for elite female athletes and contact football players, several recommendations have been made for future research investigating breast pain and breast injury (Chapter 8). Specifically, continued research on breast injury risk, mechanisms of injury and injury prevention strategies for female contact football players is essential. Evidence-based recommendations have also been made for sports to manage breast pain and breast injury through increased awareness and education amongst athletes, coaches and medical staff.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.