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Injuries common on basketball court

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The inventor of the game of basketball, James Naismith, never envisioned the popularity of the sport. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, basketball has 30 million participants. With so many people participating, injuries happen - 800,000 yearly. While most have little impact, when a vital player such as John Stockton or Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz gets injured, the win-loss column can be greatly influenced.

A medical journal search found some interesting, even rare, articles about basketball injuries. For example, a University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry study surveyed dentists reporting tooth avulsions (knocked out teeth) from basketball net accidents. Although the number of people injured was small, the dental injuries were serious. In many cases multiple teeth were avulsed when maxillary anterior teeth (front teeth) became entangled in the basketball net, either on a lowered backboard or from a raised take-off area.Another medical journal article reported serious ring avulsion (finger tissue is torn off) injuries while slam-dunking and having a ring getting caught on part of the basketball rim.

Yet another study of National Basketball Association injuries sustained by professional basketball players found 1,092 during a 17-month time period. The eye was Basketball is a great sport for participants and spectators. However, injury risk is present even in this "non-contact" sport.

involved in over 5 percent of the NBA injuries. These eye injuries involved abrasions or lacerations, contusions to the eyelid or peri-orbital region, corneal abrasions and orbital fractures. Most of these injuries were caused by fingers or elbows. Since frequent physical contact in professional basketball leaves players at great risk for sustaining eye injuries, protective eyewear is recommended.

A controversy involves high- vs. low-top shoes for the prevention of ankle sprains in basketball players. Jumping motions can subject the foot to a force as high as 15Gs, twice what a jet fighter pilot has to withstand, so it is no wonder that ankle injuries account for the most injuries.

Medical studies reported different findings. Some studies report that high tops decrease ankle injuries. Other studies found no strong relationship between shoe type and ankle sprains.

One possible problem with high tops is the possibility for greater risk for knee injuries. It's similar to the football helmet and face mask question. Football players don't experience as many broken noses, but there has been an increase in the amount of neck injuries. With high-top shoes, a basketball player twisting upon a firmly planted foot may transfer energy upward beyond the high-top toward the knee. Today's high-tops have extremely sticky, high-friction bottoms that may contribute to this problem.

Basketball is a great sport for participants and spectators. However, injury risk is present even in this "non-contact" sport.