Objectives To identify prognostic factors and models for spinal and lower extremity injuries in adult professional/elite football players from medical screening and training load monitoring processes.
Methods The MEDLINE, AMED, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, SPORTDiscus electronic bibliographic databases and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched from inception to July 2016. Searches were limited to original research, published in peer reviewed journals of any language. The Quality in Prognostic Studies (QUIPS) tool was used for appraisal and the modified GRADE approach was used for synthesis. Prospective and retrospective cohort study designs of spinal and lower extremity injury incidence were found from populations of adult professional/elite football players, between 16 and 40 years. Non-football or mixed sports were excluded.
Results 858 manuscripts were identified. Removing duplications left 551 studies, which were screened for eligibility by title and abstract. Of these, 531 studies were not eligible and were excluded. The full text of the remaining 20 studies were obtained; a further 10 studies were excluded. 10 studies were included for appraisal and analysis, for 3344 participants.
Conclusions Due to the paucity and heterogeneity of the literature, and shortcomings in methodology and reporting, the evidence is of very low or low quality and therefore cannot be deemed robust enough to suggest conclusive prognostic factors for all lower limb musculoskeletal injury outcomes identified. No studies were identified that examined spinal injury outcomes or prognostic models.
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