The value of long-running injury studies at both EURO and UEFA Champions League level is highlighted in the April edition of the official UEFA publication Medicine Matters, along with the first-ever UEFA Elite Club Medical Forum.
In two highly informative pieces, Professor Jan Ekstrand, second vice-chairman of UEFA's Medical Committee, offers an overview and interprets some of the data collected from, first, UEFA EURO 2008™ and then, in another four-page article, the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League season.
EURO injury trends
The "EURO 2008 injury study" piece looks at the second major research opportunity presented to UEFA's injury research project – now in its seventh year – namely UEFA EURO 2008™. All 16 finalist teams participated in the study, which followed the fitness fortunes of 368 footballers in Austria and Switzerland last June, using the previous final round in Portugal four years before as a point of reference. The report ends with a list of summary points, which includes the fact that injury incidences were higher at UEFA EURO 2008™ than in 2004. Also, injury risk during training was lower at EURO compared with the regular club season because training at such tournaments focused more on recovery and rehabilitation. Curiously, the injury risk for younger players was twice as high as for older players.
The data gathered from the last UEFA Champions League season, meanwhile, helps to answer the question "How important are coaches and managers in injury prevention?" in Professor Ekstrand's second feature. The author explains how co-ordination and communication between a club's manager, coaching staff and medical staff is key to injury prevention – an opinion based on seven years of monitoring of UEFA Champions League players.
'Forum off on right foot'
In his editorial, Dr Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, calls the injury research project a "foundation on which future improvements can be built". He goes on to speak about the "priceless opportunity to get together, mix with colleagues and learn from each other" that was provided by the first UEFA Elite Club Medical Forum. This gathering of team doctors from clubs who are or have been in the UEFA Champions League, and who have collaborated in the Medical Committee's injury studies, brought delegates from 17 clubs representing nine countries to UEFA's Nyon HQ. A detailed article later in issue No17, "Forum gets off on the right foot", reviews the practical discussions that took place – "an important move towards a degree of pan-European uniformity regarding the club doctor's status".
In the piece "The Emergency Care of Players", Alan Hodson, a Medical Committee member and, for many years, a prime mover on the medicine and exercise science front at The Football Association, reveals how top-level English football has reacted to the need for adequate medical infrastructure. He pinpoints the initiatives and regulations that have been implemented in the wake of a number of head injuries sustained early in the 2007/08 Premier League campaign.
Finally, a positive note for football medicine: the report "Tightening the Net" shows how the year 2008 supplied reassuring data on the doping-control front – especially reassuring given that testing was carried out in greater depth without revealing higher levels of malpractice. In other words, a cause for some satisfaction, but certainly not for complacency.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.