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