Injury Screening & Prevention – Alpine Skiing (ISPA)

The higher ranging goal of this research project is a sustainable lowering of the frequency of traumatic injuries, overuse damages and musculoskeletal disorders amongst competitive youth alpine skiers and, thereby, making an important contribution to development of future top-athletes.

Grant Application

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Competitive alpine skiing is a sport with a relatively high injury risk. A current pilot study revealed that almost 60% of all competitive alpine skiers suffer a severe knee injury in the early stages of their career (Spörri et al., unpublished data). These injuries invariably lead to an absence from training and/or competition, as well as performance reducing musculoskeletal disorders during the future career. Additionally, more than 20% of all competitive alpine skiers suffer from recurrent overuse complaints in their back area (Spörri et al., unpublished data). These complaints are most likely caused by the over straining of the spine during adolescence. Thus, developing and implementing effective prevention measures at youth level is vital to protect the health of athletes. However, an important pre-requisite for effective prevention is a fundamental understanding with regard to the epidemiology and etiology of these injuries, damages and disorders, as well as the development of sensitive screening tests for the detection of athletes at higher risks and early stages of degenerative diseases.

Project goals

The scope of the project will cover the following partial goals:

• Epidemiology: Systematic registration of injuries, overuse damages and musculoskeletal disorders in competitive youth alpine skiers.
• Etiology: Identification of the causes of registered injuries and overuse damages, as well as the clarification of their relation to musculoskeletal disorders.
• Early risk/degenerative disease identification: Development of simple, but meaningful screening tests for detecting athletes at higher risks of later injuries, overuse damages and musculoskeletal disorders, as well as early stages of degenerative diseases.
• Prevention: Development of an evidence-based, national prevention strategy “Swiss-Ski” with a focus on competitive youth alpine skiers.

  • Goal:
    Analyze and identify injury causes amongst competitive youth alpine skiers. Develop an effective screening and prevention strategy to protect the health of athletes.
  • Issues:
    Competitive alpine skiing has a relatively high injury risk. 60% of all athletes suffer a severe knee injury in the early stages of their career, and 20% suffer from recurrent overuse complaints.
  • Research:
    Establish the epidemiology and etiology of injuries, overuse damages and musculoskeletal disorders amongst competitive youth alpine skiers. Develop early risk/degenerative disease identification tests, as well as an evidence-based national prevention strategy based on the results.
  • Phases:
    Module A – epidemiology across all levels. Module B - epidemiology, etiology, screening and prevention amongst the youth alpine skiers (12-16 y).
  • Budget:
    This project is partly funded by the Balgrist Foundation.
  • Progress:

Embedment in Balgrist research

Extension of the research and teaching competence within the areas of early identification of higher injury risk/early stages of degenerative diseases and the prevention of sport injuries at the Balgrist University Hospital.

Innovation

Academization of the sport medicine unit / Balgrist Move>Med
• Development of a multi sport injury prevention model
• Know how transfer to related research fields and university teaching

PD Dr. Jörg Spörri is the Head of Sports Medical Research at the Balgrist University Hospital. He is the project science leader responsible for the study conceptualization, study implementation, study evaluation and the publication of study results.

Dr. Walter Frey is the Medical Director of the Balgrist Move>Med / Swiss Olympic Medical Center at the Balgrist university Hospital. He is the Head of the Medical Team for Alpine Skiing at Swiss-Ski.

In the current project, he is responsible for all clinical aspects, the transfer of the research findings into the sports medical practice, as well as for ensuring the practical interests of Swiss-Ski and the Balgrist University Hospital.

Patient benefit

The Balgrist University Hospital and Balgrist Move>Med / Swiss Olympic Medical Center will strengthen their competencies and reputations as medical centers at which even the top athletes of Swiss-Ski will find excellent treatment and care.

The Balgrist University Hospital will be able extend the services from its established areas of diagnosis, treatment and care of all damages to the musculoskeletal system by the areas of early identification of higher injury risk/early stages of degenerative diseases and the prevention of sport injuries.