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Distal radial fractures in young goalkeepers: a case for an appropriately sized soccer ball
  1. K T Boyd1,
  2. P Brownson2,
  3. J B Hunter1
  1. 1Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University Hospital, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
  2. 2Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool L9 7AL, UK
  1. Mr Boyd, Brisbane Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Centre, 259 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane 4000, Australia kevin_boyd23{at}


Objectives—To assess the rate of wrist fractures in young goalkeepers sustained by the specific mechanism of “saving the ball” and the potential influence of ball size and environmental conditions.

Methods—A prospective, clinic based study in one institution over a 17 month period. Patients were identified by specific questioning. Information on play circumstances and subsequent clinical progress was documented.

Results—Twenty nine fractures of the distal radius were identified in young goalkeepers (age range 6–15 years) as a direct result of saving the ball. Most were managed simply in a plaster cast. Three patients required minor surgical interventions, and all fractures went on to unite without significant complications. Where ball size was known, 12 of the 15 fractures in children aged 11 years or less occurred as the result of impact with an adult sized ball compared with three when a junior ball was involved. This is statistically significant (p = 0.039). In the 10 children aged 12–15 years, only one fracture involved a junior ball; this is also statistically significant (p = 0.027). Six of the injuries (21%) occurred when the ball was kicked by an adult. Injuries occurred in both organised and informal games throughout the year.

Conclusions—This specific mechanism of injury has not been widely acknowledged nor has the potential influence of ball size as a causative factor been examined. Recommendations for an appropriately sized soccer ball for young players exist but are not in universal use. Increased awareness of this particular injury mechanism is required.

  • soccer
  • goalkeeper
  • fracture
  • distal radius
  • children

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