"Knee injuries are among the most common form of soccer injuries. A single knee injury as a teenager or young adult can triple the risk of osteoarthritis in that knee by middle age," said Dr. Cy Frank, Scientific Director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). "Knee injury prevention alone could reduce osteoarthritis of the knee - and its future disabling pain - by at least 20%."
With 110,000 youth soccer players just in British Columbia, creating and implementing a simple education program to prevent knee injuries could have a huge impact on public health and health care costs.
With funding from IMHA, Dr. John M. Esdaile, Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and Scientific Director of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada in Vancouver, is leading a team of researchers that is developing and testing an osteoarthritis prevention program that, if successful, will reduce the number of injuries by an estimated 25% in youth soccer players. Even better, the program will be easily transferable to other regions in Canada and the world.
"Soccer is great exercise and, given the rising incidence of obesity in Canada - another risk factor in the development of osteoarthritis - we want to encourage the type of physical activity among our youth that is both fun and will help them maintain a healthy body weight, " said Dr. Esdaile. "But we want to be sure that the physical activity itself won't lead to osteoarthritis."
Specifically, the research team will train coaches to use proper warm-up methods targeting quadriceps/hamstring flexibility, stretching, power and agility drills, skill techniques to avoid injury and appropriate rehabilitation if injury occurs. As part of the trial all participants will have access to state of the art injury assessment and treatment.