Right knee was more commonly affected (198) than the left knee.(Livemint Photo)
Right knee was more commonly affected (198) than the left knee.(Livemint Photo)

Among sports, soccer players most vulnerable to knee injuries: PGI study

Soccer is found to be the most common sport associated with knee injury, accounting for 31% of the injuries, followed by kabaddi and other sports. Further, only 40% of athletes returned to sport, after suffering an injury, which reflects the “devastating effect of knee injuries” on a sportsperson’s career.
By Tanbir Dhaliwal | Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2016 10:33 PM IST

Soccer is found to be the most common sport associated with knee injury, accounting for 31% of the injuries, followed by kabaddi and other sports. Further, only 40% of athletes returned to sport, after suffering an injury, which reflects the “devastating effect of knee injuries” on a sportsperson’s career.

These revelations have come out from a study conducted at the sports injury clinic, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

The study found, “Soccer was the most common sport associated with knee injury accounting for 31% of the injuries (111), followed by kabaddi (76), accounting for 21% of the injuries. These two were followed by athletics (34), cricket (28), volleyball (28) and basketball (22).”

Further, right knee was more commonly affected (198) than the left knee (165). Also, maximum incidence of injuries occurred during match time (78%) than during the practice session (22%).

As far as the type of knee injury is concerned, the study found that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury was the most common injury and was noted in 86% of knee injuries (314).

ACL is one of a pair of ligaments in the knee which cross each other and connect the femur to the tibia (thighbones).

These knee injuries are taking a toll on the sports career of athletes. As per the study, 60% of the injured athletes (215) did not return to the sport. Among professional athletes, 46% returned to sports whereas among amateurs, 35% returned to sport.

“Only 40% of athletes returned to sport; this is a very low percentage and reflects the devastating effect of knee injuries on a sportsperson’s career. Returning to sport was significantly more in professional athletes compared to recreational athletes, which is possibly due to a higher degree of commitment to treatment and rehabilitation protocols,” mentions the study.

Experts believe that Body Mass Index (BMI) of athletes was significantly associated with the chances of return to sport.

“Athletes with a BMI less than 25 were significantly more likely to return to sport than those athletes with a BMI more than 25. Also, professional athletes were significantly more likely to return to sport than amateur athletes,” mentions the study.

‘Surgery helps’

Among athletes who returned to sport, 83% were managed surgically and 17% were treated conservatively. “The most significant factor associated with return to sport, however, was the type of management. Those treated surgically were more likely to return to sport than those treated conservatively,” said the study.

On comparison across different sports it was noted that volleyball had the highest return figure (48%), followed by kabaddi (42%), basketball (41%), soccer (38%) and cricket (36%). Athletics category had the lowest rate of return to sport (23%).

Study methodology

The study was conducted at the sports injury clinic, PGI, over a 5-year duration from December 2009 to September 2014.

During the time period, 465 athletes with knee injuries visited sports injury clinic. Out of them, 363 athletes (337 males and 26 females) were enrolled for the study.

The athletes were both amateur (58%) and professional athletes (42%).

Majority of the athletes hailed from northern India, mainly from Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

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