Fear of failure always haunts a sportsperson, but the real nightmare of the sporting life is an on-field injury. We have seen promising careers cut short by it. And in some of the more extreme cases — like that of the Australian cricketer Philip Hughes, who died after being hit by a cricket ball on the back of his neck — we’ve even seen a chance injury extinguish a whole life.  

Of late, there has been a significant increase in sports-related injuries, according to experts. Dr Amit Nath Mishra, head of the orthopaedic department at Max Hospital, Noida, said,” There has been a significant rise in the number of sports injuries that have come to us in last 4-5 years. On an average we receive 15-20 cases of sports injuries in a month now. Earlier the severe injury cases used to be in single figures. Minimum 40% of these injuries does not allow a sportsperson to restore their earlier capacity in the game.  This is a disadvantage for the sports fraternity of the country that is losing potential talent due to these injuries.”

Experts say that the number has increased because more people have started opting for sports as a career choice. “But this interest in sports won’t pay much if a person is unaware of the required precautions. Amateurs often neglect the need of shaping up muscles before they are subjected to rigorous training. There is no short-cut that can prepare a sportsperson for the best competition; hence a step-by-step preparation routine is needed. Professionals too face severe injuries and their number has increased as well because sports never had these many enthusiasts before,” said Dr Mishra.

The head of Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr Deepak Chaudhary said, “The competition in the world of sports has been on the rise and to match this ever changing level of competitiveness, the training of a sports person too has become more complicated. So their injuries have evolved too and are more complicated to treat. General age group of our patients is 15-35 years old but once in a while we do get 40-45 years old patients. These are mostly veteran players who try to continue their sport but their bodies fail them at this age.”

Dr.Chaudhary added, “Ever since the Sports Injury Facility was established in 2011, we have conducted 8000 Orthoscopic procedures and rehabilitated sports person who have been able to win medals again. A large number of cases that we receive are from Delhi and Haryana and significant number of injuries are either shoulder or knee injuries. The reason is prevalence of ‘akhadas’ (wrestling haunts) in the region. The second highest are football injuries.”

Experts suggest that professional training, if started from an early age, gives an edge to the player because the body is easily able to adapt and hence reduces the chances of injury to which other player who start playing at a later stage are more prone to.

Dr.Chaudhary said, “A multi-disciplinary approach by sportspersons is a must for a fitness regime. The three factors essential for a rigorous training are cardiovascular exercises, strengthening of muscles and stretching. A combination of the three helps the body prepare for the worst.”

However, as compared to fractures, ligament injuries are most common, and they are expensive to treat too. “Another reason why players have to drop-out of their game is the high cost of the treatment. This is why at Safdarjung we provide the treatment free of cost and only charge for ligament transplants as they are imported,” said Dr Chaudhary.

Other than sportspersons, the number of orthopaedic cases among the general public, too, has increased multi-fold. “While advancing medical facilities have resulted in increased life expectancy, the deteriorating quality of life has made people more prone to age-related degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and spondylosis. It is important to note that while unhealthy lifestyle is leading to weak bones, lack of awareness around right eating habits, healthy lifestyle, and available treatment options is further worsening the situation,” said Dr L. Tomar, senior orthopaedic surgeon, Max Super Specialty Hospital.

Dr Tomar added that in India more than 90% knee joints get damaged by the age of 60-65 years. And this indicates that instead of increasing productivity and quality of life, increased life expectancy is merely adding to the years spent becoming dependent on others.


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