Background: Shoulder injuries are common in rugby, with the most severe match injury being shoulder dislocation and instability. A limitation of epidemiological studies is that the injury information is based on player interviews after the injury or reports from the medical staff. The objective of this study is to describe the specific injury mechanisms for shoulder dislocation using video recordings in a consecutive series of 4 elite male rugby players who sustained an episode of shoulder dislocation during an official match.
Methods: Videotapes were reviewed to identify the mechanism of the injury. The incidents, including the play leading up to each incident, were analysed. A shoulder dislocation mechanism score was developed to describe the injury mechanism and the events leading up to the injury.
Results: For all the athletes, player-to-player contact was responsible for the shoulder dislocation. Three of the four injuries resulted from trauma with the elbow in an extended position forcing the shoulder to exceed the limits of the normal range of motion, causing anterior shoulder dislocation. One injury resulted from trauma with the elbow in a flexed position and the direction of the injuring force along the longitudinal axis of the humerus causing posterior shoulder dislocation.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that thorough video analysis can provide detailed information about the mechanisms of shoulder dislocation in elite rugby players. Knowledge of the common mechanisms of injuries in these athletes may potentially lead to improved sports technique to attempt to reduce the occurrence of shoulder dislocations. Further studies with a larger number of patients are required to better clarify the exact mechanism of shoulder dislocation in rugby players, and how these results may be applied in training and matches to prevent shoulder dislocation in elite rugby players.