Objective Investigate the incidence and burden of injuries by age group in youth football (soccer) academy players during four consecutive seasons.
Methods All injuries that caused time-loss or required medical attention (as per consensus definitions) were prospectively recorded in 551 youth football players from under 9 years to under 19 years. Injury incidence (II) and burden (IB) were calculated as number of injuries per squad season (s-s), as well as for type, location and age groups.
Results A total of 2204 injuries were recorded. 40% (n=882) required medical attention and 60% (n=1322) caused time-loss. The total time-loss was 25 034 days. A squad of 25 players sustained an average of 30 time-loss injuries (TLI) per s-s with an IB of 574 days lost per s-s. Compared with the other age groups, U-16 players had the highest TLI incidence per s-s (95% CI lower-upper): II= 59 (52 to 67); IB=992 days; (963 to 1022) and U-18 players had the greatest burden per s-s: II= 42.1 (36.1 to 49.1); IB= 1408 days (1373 to 1444). Across the cohort of players, contusions (II=7.7/s-s), sprains (II=4.9/s-s) and growth-related injuries (II=4.3/s-s) were the most common TLI. Meniscus/cartilage injuries had the greatest injury severity (95% CI lower-upper): II= 0.4 (0.3 to 0.7), IB= 73 days (22 to 181). The burden (95% CI lower-upper) of physeal fractures (II= 0.8; 0.6 to 1.2; IB= 58 days; 33 to 78) was double than non-physeal fractures.
Summary At this youth football academy, each squad of 25 players averaged 30 injuries per season which resulted in 574 days lost. The highest incidence of TLI occurred in under-16 players, while the highest IB occurred in under-18 players.
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