How have injuries in NBA athletes changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

A recent study tried to answer this interesting question

by Lorenzo Ciotti
How have injuries in NBA athletes changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?
© Al Bello / Staff Getty Images

Have the types of injuries suffered by NBA players changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? And if so, how have they changed? A group of researchers tried to answer this question by going in depth with their study.

Study entitled Changes in injury type among NBA athletes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and published on The Physician and sportsmedicine.

LeBron James
LeBron James© Al Bello / Staff Getty Images

Below we offer you the most interesting parts of the study:

"The 2019-2020 NBA season was significantly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic with a midseason suspension of games, the NBA 'bubble' tournament, and a shortened offseason. Concerns were raised regarding player conditioning and the potential increased risk of injury due to the schedule changes.

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated schedule changes on NBA injuries. It was hypothesized that injury rates would be higher in the year following the pandemic and teams who participated in the bubble would have higher injury rates in the following season than non-bubble teams. Furthermore, the types of injuries would shift toward more severe injuries in the condensed 2019-20 season and the following 2020-21 season.

The NBA's public injury reports were queried to identify players listed on an injury report. Standardized injury events were calculated for four pre-COVID-19 seasons (2015-2019), the COVID-19 season (2019-2020), and the post-COVID-19 season (2020-2021). Injury characteristics including type and location were extracted for each year and differences within each period were calculated.

When excluding injury events related to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the overall injury events per 1000 exposures were not significantly different between time periods of pre-COVID-19, COVID-19, and post-COVID-19 seasons, and no difference was found in the rates of teams who participated in the bubble. Injuries, including soreness and strains, significantly decreased while fracture injuries significantly increased in the COVID-19 year.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased number of games missed, but no increase in injury rates when accounting for health and safety protocols. Additionally, bubble participation had no impact on injury rates. However, despite no changes in injury rates, the types of injuries changed with an increased proportion of severe injuries and decreased proportion of minor injuries."