Objective To promote sports participation in young people, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2007. In 2009, the IOC Consensus Statement was published, which highlighted the value of periodic health evaluation in elite athletes. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of a comprehensive protocol for illness and injury detection, tailored for adolescent athletes participating in Summer or Winter YOG.
Methods Between 2010 and 2014, a total of 247 unique adolescent elite Italian athletes (53% females), mean age 16±1,0 years, competing in 22 summer or 15 winter sport disciplines, were evaluated through a tailored pre-participation health evaluation protocol, at the Sports Medicine and Science Institute of the Italian Olympic Committee.
Results In 30 of the 247 athletes (12%), the pre-participation evaluation led to the final diagnosis of pathological conditions warranting treatment and/or surveillance, including cardiovascular in 11 (4.5%), pulmonary in 11 (4.5%), endocrine in five (2.0%), infectious, neurological and psychiatric disorders in one each (0.4%). Based on National and International Guidelines and Recommendations, none of the athletes was considered at high risk for acute events and all were judged eligible to compete at the YOG. Athletes with abnormal conditions were required to undergo a periodic follow-up.
Conclusions The Youth Pre-Participation Health Evaluation proved to be effective in identifying a wide range of disorders, allowing prompt treatment, appropriate surveillance and avoidance of potential long-term consequences, in a significant proportion (12%) of adolescent Italian Olympic athletes.
- health promotion
- elite performance
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Contributors All authors have contributed equally to the collection of data. Data analysis was performed by PEA, FMQ and CP. Drafting of manuscript was performed by PEA, VM and MRS. Images were designed by PEA and EL. Revision of the manuscript was performed by PEA, AP, FMDP and BDG. All authors have approved the final submission of the manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests Data analysis was performed by PEA, FMQ and CP. Drafting of the manuscript was performed by PEA, VM and MRS. Images were designed by PEA and EL. Revision of the manuscript was performed by PEA, AP, FMDP and BDG. All authors have approved the final submission of the manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. The study design was approved by the Review Board of the Sports Medicine and Science Institute of the Italian National Olympic Committee. All clinical data assembled from athletes are maintained in an institutional database, according to Italian national privacy laws and EU GDPR. Datasets were accessible to authors onsite as they contain clinically relevant patients’ information. No additional unpublished data from the study are available. The pre-participation health evaluation programme here presented is entirely funded by the Italian National Olympic Committee in the framework of the activities aimed at promoting and safeguarding Olympic athletes’ health. Patients were not involved in the study design as this research was a retrospective analysis of the clinical findings from a pre-participation health evaluation. The lead author affirms that the manuscript is an honest, accurate and transparent account of the study being reported, that no important aspects of the study have been omitted and that any discrepancies from the study as planned have been explained.
Patient consent Next of kin consent obtained.
Ethics approval Institute of Sports Medicine and Science Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement PEA had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility, on behalf of all authors, for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
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