UEFA club injury study sets the standard

The 2015/16 UEFA Elite Club Injury Study confirms the report's reputation as an unrivalled historical archive of data which helps clubs treat and prevent player injuries.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal receiving treatment during the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal receiving treatment during the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France ©AFP/Getty Images

UEFA is helping top European clubs measure the injury rate of their players in a renowned medical study that is entering its 16th year.

Each season, the UEFA Elite Club Injury Study provides clubs, associations and the scientific community with crucial data that helps them in their own work in treating and preventing player injuries. The study, launched in 2001, is coordinated by former UEFA Medical Committee vice-chairman, Professor Jan Ekstrand.

The study is heralded as an unrivalled historical archive of football injury data. The data provided represents a comprehensive information source about injury patterns, risks, the likely prevalence of certain injury types, and for diagnoses on when a player will be fit to return to action after injury.

Data includes, among other things, exposure, general injury patterns, training injuries, match injuries, severe injuries, muscle injuries, ligament injuries, recurring injuries, and squad attendance/availability and absences.

"UEFA's injury study has now recorded approximately 13,000 injuries and 1,800,000 exposure hours over 15 seasons," said Professor Ekstrand. "Close to 50 teams from 18 different countries have participated at some point during these 15 seasons. The study has become an essential tool for the clubs to review their season's success in regards to their injury rate."

The latest report contains results from July to June of the 2015/16 season for 29 clubs that provided complete data for at least five months.

An innovation in the 2015/16 report saw players at six clubs asked to give their opinion on training and match loads under the newly introduced Rate of Perceived Exhaustion (RPE) measurement. Fifteen clubs have now confirmed their participation in the RPE section of the study for 2016/17.

This year, the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) published a specific issue about the UEFA Elite Club Injury Study. The issue focused on various topics such as hamstring injuries, ACL injuries, fracture epidemiology, MRI findings and injury prevention strategies.

Each season's injury study also gives UEFA the opportunity to meet with elite club doctors and medical experts from across Europe, who also give feedback on their experiences over the season.

The latest gathering in Lisbon in June focused on issues including clubs' internal communication, the effects of a change of manager/coach on injuries within clubs, and measurement of load and its correlation with injury data.