Anne Moseley talked to Associate Professor Odd-Egil Olsen (UiT Norges Arktiske Universitet, Norway) whose trial evaluating exercise to prevent sporting injuries is one of the 15 most significant trials in physiotherapy.
Anne: Explain what you did in the study
Odd-Egil: In the study we investigated the effect of a structured warm-up program designed to reduce the incidence of knee and ankle injuries in young people participating in sports. We followed 120 team handball clubs and registered all injuries during one 8-month season. At the start of the league season, the clubs in the intervention group received a program of warm-up exercises to prevent injuries, while the clubs in control group where doing their training as usual.
Anne: What was the main finding?
Odd-Egil: The main finding was that a structured warm-up program with exercises to improve awareness and knee and ankle control during landing and pivoting movements reduces injuries to the lower limb in youth team handball.
Anne: Why do you think the study is important?
Odd-Egil: The randomised controlled trial is important because it shows that the incidence of knee and ankle injuries can be reduced by at least 50%. Preventive training should therefore be routine and a natural part of youth sports training programs. Also, programs focusing on technique and balance training should be implemented in players as young as 10-12 years. It seems reasonable to assume that the prevention program used in the study also could be modified to be used in other similar sports, and that question should lead to future research.
Anne: What lead you to do the study?
Odd-Egil: Participation in sports entails a risk of injury, and sports injuries constitute 10-19% of all acute injuries treated in emergency departments, with injuries to the knee and ankle the most common types. The risk of serious knee injuries, such as injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, is high among adolescents playing pivoting sports such as football, basketball, or team handball. Previously studies showing that it may be possible to reduce the incidence of knee and ankle injuries among young people have been small and mainly non-randomised, with significant methodological limitations. Therefore, we initiated the randomised controlled trial with high enough sample size to investigate the effect of a prevention program.
Anne: What studies are you conducting now?
Odd-Egil: One of the coauthors of the paper, Associate Professor Grethe Myklebust, has followed the anterior cruciate ligament injury incidence in female handball for 15 years, and received important lessons learned from the Norwegian anterior cruciate ligament prevention study. Furthermore, she along with Dr Kathrin Steffen and Professor Roald Bahr from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center have been the driving force behind the free app “Get Set – Train Smarter”. Get Set provides injury prevention exercises, which were created for the occasion of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Anne: Odd-Egil, thank you for making such a valuable contribution to physiotherapy.