Sensor-based lower limb kinematics in young football players: new frontiers of injury prevention
ESSKA Academy. Zaffagnini S. Nov 9, 2019; 286400
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Sensor-based lower limb kinematics in young football players: new frontiers of injury prevention

ESMA Free Papers

Topic: Prevention in Sports

Di Paolo S.1, Zaffagnini S.1,2, Bragonzoni L.3
1Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, II Clinica Ortopedica e Traumatologica, Bologna, Italy, 2University of Bologna, Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Bologna, Italy, 3University of Bologna, Department for Life Quality, Bologna, Italy

Introduction: New technologies are changing our way to assess non-contact injury mechanisms and sport performances. Quantitative data allow a better understanding of movement patterns, resulting in training improvements with the goal of injury prevention and safe return to play. Moreover, movements acquired during on-field trainings are much closer to reality than in Gait Labs, which could be affected by bias related to the close environment. To the date, there is still a lack of kinematic assessment on field.
The aim of the present work was to evaluate, during an ordinary training, the lower limb kinematics in young football players, and to verify if the kinematic patterns are influenced by motor abilities.
Methods: Fourteen healthy young football players (10y ± 2m) were enrolled. Every subject performed two different activities: a pre-defined path, with typical movements of football trainings and matches; and the Harre test, to evaluate the children's motor ability. The path consisted in 5 tasks: a lateral shuffle (LS), a vertical jump (VJ), a low skip (SK), 2 changes of direction (CDs) at 90°, right and left, and a shot on goal (SH). Children received few indications on how to perform the path, in order to let them move in the most natural way. Motion data were collected through a set of 7 inertial sensors placed on lower limbs. Kinematic data of hip, knee, ankle angles were acquired for all the tasks performed. The time elapsed in Harre test was also measured.
Results: Based on the results of the Harre test, the children were divided in 2 groups (p=0.0012): in Group A the ones who took more time to complete the test (less coordination); and in Group B the ones who took less time to complete the test (more coordination). During all tasks performed, subjects of Group A presented a reduced flexion angle of all joints respect to Group B. In addition, during CDs and VJ, more subjects of the Group A presented ankle extra-rotation coupled with knee valgus.
Conclusion: The players of Group A adopted a 'stiffer' kinematic strategy to perform the tasks compared to the ones Group B, thus resulting in less smooth and performing movements. Furthermore, in high demanding tasks (VJ and CDs), some players of Group A occasionally adopted kinematic patterns commonly found in non-contact injuries. On-field quantitative assessment of sport movement can be a key tool to detect injury-related patterns during the game and help to personalize trainings to avoid them.
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