Injury Risk and Injury Burden Are Related to Age Group and Peak Height Velocity Among Talented Male Youth Soccer Players

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Background: The relationship between injury risk (IR) in age groups and periods around peak height velocity (PHV) remains unclear. PHV is defined as the moment of the largest increase in body height. Purpose: To investigate injury risk and injury burden as functions of growth velocity (periods around PHV) and chronological age groupings (under 12 years [U12] to U19) in talented youth male soccer players. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2. Methods: A total of 170 players from the youth academy of a Dutch soccer club (highest professional league: Eredivisie) were observed for 1 to 3 seasons. Injuries, exposure, PHV age, and chronological age were registered. The injury incidence density (IID) and injury burden per 1000 hours of soccer participation, with 95% CIs, were calculated for 5 PHV periods and 7 age groups. These were compared with the overall cohort results using incidence ratios (IRs) and burden ratios (BRs) with 95% CIs. Results: The mean age at PHV was 14.4 ± 0.65 years (range, 12.8-16.5 years). The mean IID for the total cohort was 8.34 injuries per 1000 hours (95% CI, 7.71-9.02). Compared with the overall mean, a significantly higher IID was found for PHV period 4+5 (IR, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.00-1.71]; P =.049) and for the U15 group (IR, 1.49 [95% CI, 1.24-1.79]; P <.001). The overall injury burden was 58.37 injury days per 1000 hours (95% CI, 56.66-60.13). In PHV period 4+5, the injury burden was significantly higher (BR, 1.53 [95% CI, 1.39-1.68]; P <.001) when compared with the overall mean. Also, compared with the overall mean, the injury burden was higher in the U16 (BR, 1.48 [95% CI, 1.39-1.58]; P <.001), U15 (BR, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.19-1.38]; P <.001), and U17 groups (BR, 1.21 [95% CI, 1.13-1.31]; P <.001). Conclusion: Talented young soccer players were more prone to injuries during the 6 months after PHV (31% above overall mean) as well as in the U15 group (49% above overall mean). Based on the higher injury burden in the U16 (48%), U15 (28%), and U17 (21%) groups, we suggest that research on injury risk factors and preventive measures should primarily target these age groups. Additional interventions based on PHV may be of limited value from a screening perspective. Further research is needed on the interaction between age groups and PHV periods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic journal of sports medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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