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7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Annual Assembly of the German and the Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

26.-29.10.2011, Salzburg, Österreich

Epidemiological study in young professional footballers: a prospective study of three consecutive seasons

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Francesco Piras - FMSI, Sardinia, Cagliari Calcio S.p.a,, Cagliari, Italy
  • author Paolo Cugia - FMSI, Sardinia, Cagliari Calcio S.p.a, Cagliari, Italy
  • author presenting/speaker Roberto Mura - Laboratory of Sport Physiology, University of Studies of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
  • author Marco Scorcu - FMSI, Sardinia, Cagliari Calcio S.p.a, Cagliari, Italy
  • author presenting/speaker Luca Angius - Laboratory of Sport Physiology, University of Studies of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy

7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Salzburg, 26.-29.10.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11esm194

doi: 10.3205/11esm194, urn:nbn:de:0183-11esm1945

Veröffentlicht: 24. Oktober 2011

© 2011 Piras et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Introduction: Football as most of contact and situational sports is characterized by sudden changes in speed and direction, and this may be noticed in younger players as well with lower power level. Performers are subject to injuries of various kinds mainly located in the lower limbs. At a young age when the athlete matures from a biological and technical point of view, it is important that the athletic and clinical staff implement prevention and training protocols with the purpose to prevent overload diseases. Recovery time between the various sessions should ensure the optimal psycho-physical restoration.

Objectives: The aim of the study is to make a quantitative analysis of three soccer season, in order to: 1) quantify the incidence and type of injury; 2) know which are the roles most affected by injuries; 3) identify which are the age groups with higher incidence; 4) identify which situation has the highest risk of injury.

Subjects: A sample of 745 young-players was identified from the professional football academy of Cagliari Calcio s.p.a., aged between 10–20 years, during the seasons 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10. Collection of data: Each injury was examined by the medical staff at the end of each training session and after each game played and, whenever necessary, put through further diagnostic investigations. Afterward the lesion was classified according to: age (Figure 1 [Fig. 1]) and role of the player (Figure 2 [Fig. 2]), situation (Figure 3 [Fig. 3]), mode of injury (Figure 4 [Fig. 4]), anatomical district and type of pathology (Figure 5 [Fig. 5]). Data were recorded on a spreadsheet for further statistical processing. Statistical analysis: Differences between condition in mean ± SD were studied with unpaired t-test while differences between ages, role, modality, anatomic and kind of pathology with mean ± SD were analyzed with one-Way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Statistical significance was set at p<0,05.

Results: The total number of injuries throughout the three seasons is 236 (81, 80 and 75) (Figure 6 [Fig. 6]). The results indicate that the most affected age group is between 14–16 years (42.33±11.24, 18 ± 3.61 and 21.67±2.31) with higher incidence during training sessions than the game (60.67±4.51 vs 18±2.65). The case report shows a greater incidence in defenders rather than in midfielders, strikers and goalkeepers (37±3, 20±3.61, 14.33±1.53 and 10.33±7.57). The most affected anatomical areas are thigh, ankle and knee (29.67±4.51, 5.29±15, 13±3), no statistical significance for foot, leg or arm. Tendinopathy is the most frequent pathology (27.67±12.66), followed by the muscular (20±5.2), distorsive (18±3.46) and contusive (8.67±3.06).

Discussion: The survey indicates that the reason for the athlete to discontinue competitive activity is more often due to tendon or muscular injuries of the lower limbs, while traumatic lesions display a lower incidence. Most affected roles are defenders and midfielders, due to the higher density of players in such areas of the pitch. The game situation and age group in which injuries occur leads us to believe that in the 14–16 age group the number of training sessions is too high and this does not allow an adequate period of optimal recovery in athletes who are in the process of psycho-physical growth. It can be inferred that it might be more appropriate to modify or reduce training sessions to safeguard the athlete’s global growth.


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