The medical screening of young athletes assures the early recognition of health problems and properly timed restriction from sports activities provides the safety of sporting. In 2009 the Estonian Health Insurance Fund prevention project ‘The medical screening of young athletes for prevention of sports-related health risks’ was started.
The aim of the study was to establish the most common health problems occurring in young athletes, to determine the amount of athletes disqualified from participation in trainings and competition due to health problems, and to explore the main reasons for disqualification.
Young athletes (n=1479) in age range from seven to 19 years (mean age 13±3 years, 70% boys), involved in 54 different sports, were screened during eight months period in 2009 in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic of Tartu University Hospital. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) was used for classification of health problems.
In 830 (56%) of young athletes diseases or related health problems were established. Most common organ systems involved were musculoskeletal (posture disturbances, lower extremity enthesopathies, and back problems), cardiovascular (cardiac conduction disorders, arrhythmias, and hypertension), and respiratory system (chronic tonsillitis and asthma) – 41%, 30% and 11% respectively. The health problems occurred more often in age range 13 to 17 years. Track and field, football and volleyball were the sports where athletes had more health problems. The participation restrictions were applied in 171 (11.6%) young athletes (68% boys), in one case the athlete was disqualified from certain sport. Cardiovascular (46%), musculoskeletal (29%), and respiratory (12%) conditions were most frequent reasons for participation restrictions. Although musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions are more common in young athletes, the conditions related to cardiovascular system led more often to participation restriction.
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