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The World’s Most Popular Sport :

October 29, 2019

Soccer is one of the few sports that truly transcends culture and is enjoyed by children and adolescents around the world. All you need is a group of kids and some semblance of a ball, and you have a game. Nothing fancy or expensive.

Soccer is one of the few sports that truly transcends culture and is enjoyed by children and adolescents around the world. All you need is a group of kids and some semblance of a ball, and you have a game. Nothing fancy or expensive. No wonder it is known as “the beautiful sport.”  Over the past 3 decades, the Unites States has climbed onto the global soccer bandwagon with marked expansion of youth participation in the game.  However, not all soccer experiences are created equal. The AAP’s updated Clinical Report on soccer injuries (10.1542/peds.2019-2759), provides guidance for pediatricians and families on how to keep the soccer experience positive, and young players safe and healthy.  This report provides the latest data on injury patterns and prevalence in soccer, and valuable insight on how to help prevent these injuries in the first place.

Past injury is the biggest predictor for future injury, and injury prevention starts before stepping onto the soccer field.  In this report, Drs. Watson, Mjaanes and AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness emphasize the importance of the preparticipation evaluation (PPE) as a tool for injury prevention. Busy pediatric practices can perform these PPEs effectively and efficiently utilizing the updated  history, physical, and clearance forms released by the AAP earlier this year.1

Two of the hottest topics in soccer medicine get significant ink in this report:  anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and concussion.  In regards to ACL injury, this report provides a nice overview on the role of neuromuscular training in preventing injury, and describes several excellent, practical resources on this for young soccer players and their families. 

Unfortunately, concussion prevention is more elusive. Some parents are spending a lot of money on headgear in efforts to minimize head injury risk, but Watson, et al. emphasize the lack of evidence to support use of headbands, or other wearable equipment, for concussion prevention in soccer.  However, high school soccer players are at particular risk for these head (and neck!) injuries as a result of illegal activity on the field.  These injuries are very preventable, and this report makes a strong case that advocacy for fair play and rule enforcement may be the best prevention strategy of them all. 

Reference

  1.  American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness:  Preparticipation Physical Evaluation.  https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/PPE.aspx  Accessed October 5, 2019.
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