NZ sports injuries cost more than car crashes
Sport injuries cost ACC more than road crashes in 2016 with payouts totalling $542 million.
ACC figures from 2016 show the gap is closing between the numbers of claims from New Zealand’s biggest contact sport – rugby – and claims related to fitness training accidents at the gym.
Some 62,337 New Zealanders claimed injuries on the the rugby field in 2016, while 51,319 injuries occurred inside the gym.
Nationally, rugby injuries cost New Zealanders $78.2m a year compared with gym injuries at $30.5m.
ACC approved 499,629 claims for sports injuries last year, costing $542m – up from $508m in 2015.
It paid over $3 billion to New Zealanders in 2016 with $1.4b for injuries in the home and community and $738m for workplace accidents. Sport cost ACC more than injuries from road accidents ($435m).
Rugby was the leading sport for injury payouts. Payouts rose from $76m in 2016 and have gone up from $67m in 2013.
Most rugby claims were for broken and dislocated bones, knee injuries, ligament damage and concussions (2401 cases in 2016).
ACC injury prevention portfolio manager Isaac Carlson acknowledged rugby injury claims were higher than other sports injuries and the sport had always been the biggest claimant.
He said ACC had increased its investment to $7m in its ‘‘rugbysmart’’ programme until 2020 in the aim to prevent injuries.
Rugbysmart is a partnership run by ACC and New Zealand Rugby aimed at helping players and coaches minimise the risk of injury in the game.
‘‘Rugby and rugby players are changing. They’re fitter, faster and stronger than they were a decade ago, so it’s important our injury prevention programmes keep up with the demands of the modern game,’’ he said.
Carlson said while ‘‘rugby costs’’ had risen each year this was due to an increase in player numbers and the rising cost of treatment.
For example, registrations over the last three years had increased by over 5000, while injury claims had dropped by nearly 4000. Costs, however, had risen.
‘‘Concussion claims have also been rising, but this is because increased education means more players are now recognising the signs and symptoms and are getting medical advice.’’
Carlson said the number of ‘‘catastrophic spinal injuries’’ had decreased over the last decade.
The ACC figures exclude claims from those rugby players employed by New Zealand Rugby as they have their own claims policy within the organisation. This would include all Super Rugby teams, women’s professional rugby players, Mitre Ten Cup players and the national sides such as the All Blacks.
The figures also exclude those injuries which end in fatalities on the rugby field.
Gym was the second-most claimed upon sport in New Zealand behind rugby.
Carlson said there had been a definite increase in accidents related to gym usage, but put this down to growing membership numbers and a greater range of activities such as Crossfit.
‘‘We are actively working with the industry to understand the nature and cause of injuries, and design an appropriate solution to help participants get the most out of their training and minimise injuries.
ACC planned to define the causes of these injuries in the next two years, he said.
Rugby union ACC claims were well ahead of the similarly physical rugby league, which cost taxpayers $19.8m. However, league has a considerably smaller number of registered players.
Skiers and snowboarders often cop a bad rap for not showing up to work on Monday due to mishaps on the mountain.
But the two winter sports had between them just over 13,000 claims, amounting to just over $25m.
ACC coughed up $38.2m for football injuries, $27.6m for netball and $12.8m for basketball.