Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: An Ounce of Prevention = Money Saved! (Sports Med Res)
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

An Ounce of Prevention = Money Saved!

Economic Impact Study: Neuromuscular Training Reduces the Burden of Injuries and Costs Compared to Standard Warm-Up in Youth Soccer

Marshall DA, Lopatina E, Lacny S, & Emery CA.  Br J Sports Med. Published
Online First: March 10, 2016. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095666

Take Home Message: A neuromuscular injury prevention program reduces injuries and health care costs among female youth soccer players. 

We have had several posts on Sports Med Res about the effectiveness of neuromuscular warm ups to prevent injuries. However, we still need to determine the cost effectiveness of these warm-up programs to help estimate the potential financial impact of injury prevention.  Therefore, the authors of this cluster randomized study aimed to evaluate the cost effectiveness of a neuromuscular warm-up program in comparison to a standard warm up in youth soccer players.  Sixty youth female soccer teams (aged 13-18) were randomized to either the neuromuscular warm up (32 teams) or standard warm up (28 teams).  The authors evaluated injury incidence and direct healthcare cost in youth female soccer players over the course of a season.  When calculating costs, the authors based the cost of the neuromuscular warm-up program on the cost of equipment and time required for training sessions. They confirmed that there was a 38% decrease in injuries within the neuromuscular training group compared with the standard warm up group.  This led to the neuromuscular training group having 43% less direct healthcare costs than the standard warm-up group. The authors projected that these numbers could be extrapolated to all youth soccer players in Alberta Canada and result in over $2.7 million in healthcare savings per season (> $46.50 saved per player per season; 2014 Canadian dollars).

The findings of this study are interesting because these authors not only confirm that injury prevention programs can work, but they reported a large financial benefit.  Each country has different health care systems, but regardless of where you go, financial costs are becoming excessive.  These authors not only confirm that injury prevention programs can reduce injuries, but that there is a significantly lower health care cost associated with this.  A famous Benjamin Franklin quote is “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  With a small investment of time, and limited resources – there can be potentially a very large financial impact.  The estimates from this study complement a recent study where the authors found that an injury prevention program may save $100 per player per season (US dollars) when we only consider anterior cruciate ligament injuries. The new study provides us with more accurate data and information about any injury in soccer. It would also be interesting to look at the mental effects of injury on quality of life.  Quality of life cannot be measured financially, but injuries are known to have negative effects psychosocially on athletes.  Furthermore, it would be interesting to know the long-term cost savings of injury prevention programs because injuries can have long-term effects on an athlete’s physical and mental health and ability to work. Previous researchers have shown that prevention programs can improve performance measures, there are minimal negative effects, they reduce injuries, and save money.  Clinical bottom line is that there seems to be all positive aspects, and few negative aspects of integrating injury prevention programs. 

Questions for Discussion:  What are some barriers to implementation of injury prevention programs?  Are there any other points that you think need to be clarified surrounding injury prevention programs?

Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

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Related Links:
Osteoarthritis Action Alliance’s Consensus Opinion for Best Practice Features of Lower Limb Injury Prevention Programs (LLIPP)



Marshall, D., Lopatina, E., Lacny, S., & Emery, C. (2016). Economic impact study: neuromuscular training reduces the burden of injuries and costs compared to standard warm-up in youth soccer British Journal of Sports Medicine DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095666

5 comments:

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this article, and its uniqueness in considering the effect of healthcare costs for individuals and the public. These findings are something that could be useful not only to healthcare professionals, but also to coaches and parents. I have some previous experience in working with the high school setting, and I must emphasize that the most frequent discussion we pursue with our coaches is the importance of a thorough warm-up. Coaches I have previously worked with often times insist that a warm-up be done on the student athlete's "own time", or that they students simply "stretch around" for a few minutes at the beginning of a practice or game. I would like to share this article with them, to further educate them on not only the importance of a standard warm up, but a functional and thorough warm-up (including agility, strength, etc.) It is a small price to pay in the large scheme of events, when compared to the cost of healthcare to athletes with unnecessary injuries arise. However, the great thing about this article is that it not only addresses the issue of preventing costs, but preventing injury. I believe coaches and parents would be receptive to this information, and allow them to look into the long term consequences of skipping an appropriate daily warm up. With over 50 high schools and over 300 students involved, I would conclude that the results are generalizable to the high school student athlete population, and this data should be considered by athletic trainers when evaluating a warm-up protocol.

Nicole Cattano said...

Thanks for your comment! I do agree that this is a great education tool that we can utilize for our coaches...however- are there any other summaries or bits of information that folks might feel would be appropriate for coaches? In my experience... They have a tendency to get bogged down in some science/research and lose the over arching message.

EG said...

I think this is a great article to refer when trying to explain the significance of a proper warm-up to not only coaches, but to parents as well. I watch a lot of youth club soccer because of younger family members, and most of the time the kids hardly do a warm-up at all. Maybe if we can explain the importance of this to both the parents and the coaches, the kids can learn a proper program earlier. Hopefully this can carryover as they grow in age and will prevent injuries in the future.

Jeffrey Driban said...

Thanks for the comment EG. I think you are right about highlighting the importance of these programs to the parents and coaches. Starting at a young age may be key. Thanks!

Nicole Cattano said...

Thanks EG and I agree with you and Jeffrey. Does anyone have any ideas as to how we can make this a part of the culture of the sport so that parents and kids almost EXPECT to do this?

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