A new study of adolescent female soccer players shows that this group may be experiencing injury rates notably higher than previously believed. The study included 498 female soccer players ages 15 to 18 years in Denmark who utilized a text message-based self-reporting system to track sport-related injuries and found substantially higher rates than had been established in previous studies, which were based on reports from medical staff or coaches. Differences varied by rate of exposure, but on average the study found a time-loss injury rate of 9.7 per 1,000 hours, while previous studies reported rates between 2.4 and 5.3.

According to a news release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), for severe injuries, with a 1.1 per 1,000 hours rate that is “3 times that previously reported in a female adolescent population, and identical to or higher than … that reported in elite male and female soccer,” as indicated in the study. The study involved 4 weekly questions sent via text message to all participants, with subsequent messages sent immediately depending on how they responded to the initial questions.

The participants who reported pain or discomfort were contacted by telephone and briefly interviewed further. The APTA news release notes that researchers then categorized all reported injuries into time-loss and no time-loss injuries, with “time loss” being defined as an injury that resulted in a loss of playing/training time of 1 week or more. From there, they separated time-loss injuries into overuse and acute injuries, and further divided acute injuries into injuries sustained in a match or in training.

In addition to the higher overall incidence rates, the authors of the study noted a strong correlation between risk of time-loss injuries and lower amount of play and training time. In the lowest-exposure group, which was less than 1 hour per week of play or training, the authors write that the first measure of prevention for this group would be to increase regular training, warning that if the rates hold true, occasional soccer players “may represent a population exhibiting unsafe behavior and a possible major cost to society in terms of medical expenses.”

Source: APTA