Injuries and illnesses in the national basketball association: a 10-year perspective

J Athl Train. 2000 Apr;35(2):161-7.


Objective: To present an overview of the medical conditions experienced by athletes competing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from the 1988-1989 through the 1997-1998 seasons.

Design and setting: Athletic trainers completed profiles that provided demographic information for each player. Injury reports indicated when and where the injury occurred, pathology, onset, activity, and the mechanism of injury. The amount of time lost, injured list status, hospitalization, and surgery were also reported. Reportable injuries were those that resulted in (1) physician referral, (2) a practice or game being missed, or (3) emergency care being rendered.

Subjects: A total of 1094 players appeared in the database 3843 times (mean, 3.3 +/- 2.6 seasons). Mean player demographics were age 26.7 (+/- 3.7) years, NBA playing experience 4.1 (+/- 3.7) years, height 200.8 (+/- 9.9) cm, and weight 100.2 (+/- 13.5) kg. Players averaged 52 (+/- 34.7) games and 1263.1 (+/- 1073.8) minutes played.

Measurements: The frequency of injury, time lost, and game exposures were tabulated, and game-related injury rates were then calculated.

Results: Ankle sprains were the most frequently occurring orthopaedic injury (942, 9.4%), followed by patellofemoral inflammation (803, 8.1%), lumbar strains (491, 5.0%), and knee sprains (258, 2.3%). The greatest number of days missed were related to patellofemoral inflammation (7569, 11.5%), knee sprains (5712, 8.6%), ankle sprains (5122, 7.7%), and lumbar strains (3365, 5.1%).

Conclusions: Professional athletes in the NBA experience a rate of game-related injuries that is twice as high as their collegiate counterparts. Patellofemoral inflammation is a significant problem among NBA players.