A study to evaluate the effects of a neuromuscular injury prevention programme (GAA15) in adolescent males participating in hurling
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Introduction: Adolescent involvement in organised sport has never been more popular in Ireland, however, this increased level of activity has reportedly caused concern regarding the potential risk and severity of sporting injuries (Lunn et al. 2013). Previous research into adolescent injury incidence in a variety of multidirectional sports, including rugby, soccer, and basketball have established a decline in injury rates following the implementation of injury prevention programmes (Ekegren et al., 2015). Former investigations into injury incidences and rates within the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has primarily focused on elite adult players. However, a recent investigation into the epidemiology of injury in male adolescents, O’ Connor et al. (2016) discovered that 35.6% of this cohort were at risk of injury with 27.9% of injured participants at risk of sustaining a subsequent injury in that same year. Adolescents in sport are at risk of injury secondary to potential training overload on an immature skeletal system (Kang et al., 2013). The aims of the current investigation are to assess and critically analyse the application and implementation of a neuromuscular injury prevention programme (GAA15), evaluate injury rates and compare the effects of the programme on neuromuscular performance tests in adolescent boys participating in hurling. Methods: A sample of 821 male subjects, between the ages of 13 and 18.5 years, were recruited from fourteen post primary schools and six GAA clubs. Schools and clubs were invited and selected based on geographical practicality and then allocated to either an intervention or control group. Seven schools and three clubs participated in the intervention group with equal group numbers in the control group. The intervention group implemented an injury prevention programme namely the GAA15 before training and matches. The control group adopted their normal warm-up behaviour prior to matches and training. Results: The GAA15 exhibited a positive improvement between the two groups with an overall reduction in lower extremity injury rates (p=0.063), however not statistically significant, from a practical viewpoint, it should encourage coaches to use the GAA15 injury prevention programme. School control group participants sustained lower extremity training injury rates (IRs) of 15.83/1000hrs (95% CI 9.4-22.3) compared to 8.78/1000hrs (95% CI 5.2-12.4) in the intervention group (p=0.063, z). Club control players experienced training IRs of 15.29/1000hrs (95% CI 3.1-27.5) compared to 13.56/1000hrs (95% CI 7.5-19.7) for the intervention group (p=0.271). Match lower extremity IRs of 36.32/1000hrs (95% CI 21.1-51.5) and 35.74/1000hrs (95% CI 11.0-60.5) were reported for the school and club control groups respectively, with 25.62/1000hrs (95% CI 16.9-34.4) and 35.11/1000hrs (95% CI 21.9-48.4) reported for the intervention group participants (p=0.230 and p=0.960). Lower extremity injuries made up 66.5% of all injuries recorded with the knee being the most frequently injured body part. Performance test results displayed significant improvements within the groups from pre to post-testing; school and club intervention groups for the CMJ (p<0.001) and club intervention group for the 20m sprint (p<0.001). Conclusion: Schools hurling training and match lower extremity IRs were reduced by 45% and 30% respectively in the intervention group when compared to the respective control groups, with club IR reductions of 11% and 2% being recorded between the intervention and control groups. Following this investigation, it can be concluded that the implementation of the GAA15 is effective in reducing lower extremity injury rates in adolescent males participating in hurling.
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