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What are the risks involved with playing rougher sports?

I am considering a rougher sport like rugby or Australian Rules, despite the risks. What do I need to know to manage these risks, and what injuries do I need to really watch out for?

It is very important if you are considering a high risk sport to discuss it with your Haemophilia Centre and ask them about the risks, even if you know they do not recommend a certain sport. We all know about joint bleeds, but it is important to know what else to watch out for. Remember - having prophylaxis before sport won’t stop you from having a bleed if you get injured!

  • Head injuries: Concussions and knocks to the head are common in rugby and AFL for example. Due to the risk of a bleed in your brain any hits to the head or signs of concussion need to be taken very seriously. Young people with haemophilia can have significant brain injuries if they suffer a blow to the head and develop a bleed in their brain.
  • Tongue or throat bleeds: These need to be treated straight away and monitored, as they can lead to swelling around your airway and affect your breathing
  • Eye injuries: Bleeding in your eye could damage your eyesight
  • Spinal: Watch out for back pain, weakness, tingling and numbness or weakness of the legs or arms
  • Testes: Blow to the groin
  • Abdominal bleeds: Signs can include pain in the stomach, vomiting or coughing up blood or blood in your bowel motions or urine
  • Muscle bleeds: Particularly watch out for those in your calf or forearm. If too much pressure builds up inside these muscles from bleeding and swelling it can cut off blood flow. This can permanently damage a muscle and its nerves. Thigh and groin bleeds are also to be watched out for as these can be very large. They can cause muscles to become very tight and take a long time to settle. Sometimes they can keep bleeding and damage surrounding tissue, particularly if they are not rehabilitated properly.
  • Joint bleeds: It is important to work out the difference between a joint bleed and a painful and sometimes slightly swollen joint due to arthritis. No amount of factor will fix arthritis once it is there, or reduce arthritic pain, so it is important to know what it is you are feeling. The more joint bleeds you have and the worse they are, the more arthritis will be caused. If you do suspect you have a joint bleed treat it promptly with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and factor replacement as prescribed by your doctor.

Answered by: Physio

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Date last reviewed: 22/06/12