Head injuries caused by sports
Sports injuries contributed to 9% of head injury hospitalisations (12,900). This represents 19% of the total number of sports injury hospitalisations in 2020–21 (AIHW 2023e).
Males were more likely than females to have a head injury as a result of sport, making up 12% of all head injury hospitalisations for males compared with 6% for females.
- cycling was related to the highest number of sports head injury hospitalisations overall (20%) and for males (24%)
- equestrian activities was the sport with the highest number of head injury hospitalisations for females (16%)
- intracranial injuries were the most common head injury caused by sports (36%).
Compared with all sports injury hospitalisations:
- Among males, 1 in 3 injuries for recreational walking were head injuries (33%)
- Around 3 in 10 injuries for hockey (29%), cycling (29%), and recreational walking (28%) were head injuries (Table 5)
- Around 1 in 4 injuries for equestrian activities (26%), surfing (26%), rugby (25%), golf (24%), and AFL (23%) were head injuries.
Number of head injuries
Total number of sports injuries
Head injuries as per cent (%) of sports injuries
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
Transport was the primary cause of head injuries from sports, making up over a third of cases (36%). This can be explained due to a similar proportion of injuries occurring in transport-based sports of cycling, wheeled motor sports, and equestrian activities (35%).
Falls (30%) and contact with living things (including people, animals and plants) (20%) were the next most common causes of head injury as a result of sport. For all sports injury hospitalisations, falls were the leading cause of injury (31%), followed by transport (24%).