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Background: Physiotherapists are important members of the sports medicine team and are involved in the prevention and management of injured athletes right from the acute stage of injury to the stage of rehabilitation. However, the type of treatments rendered to injured athletes and level of physiotherapy utilisation in terms of injury referrals for physiotherapy in sports medicine in Nigeria is not fully known. Objective: To find out the extent of referral of sports injuries for physiotherapy and types of treatments rendered to injured athletes referred for physiotherapy at the National Sports Medicine Centre (NSMC), Lagos, South-West, Nigeria. Methods: All case files at the general records unit from January 1995 to December 2002 were investigated. Information on athlete’s sport, body part treated and physiotherapy modalities used between January 1997 and December 2002 were also extracted from the treatment register at the physiotherapy department of the sports medicine centre. Results: A total of 171 sports related injuries were reported at the general records unit of the NSMC, with a male to female ratio of 2:1. Of this number, 121 (70.8%) were referred for physiotherapy with strain (n= 57, 33.3%) constituting the majority of physiotherapy referrals. At the physiotherapy department, the knee (n=43, 30.1%) and the thigh (n=33, 25.4%) were the most treated body parts. Track and field events (n=48, 36.9%) recorded the highest number of injuries treated. Exercise therapy (n=81, 25.5%) was the most frequently used modality, followed closely by transcutenous electrical nerve stimulation therapy (n=73, 20.3%). Conclusion: The frequency of referral of sports injuries for physiotherapy at the NSMC was high. Exercise therapy was the most frequently used treatment modality and injuries affecting the lower limbs were mostly treated. Emphasis should therefore be laid on prevention of lower limb injuries.
Key Words: Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy Referrals, Treatment, Sports Medicine Centre, Nigeria