At a meeting for all participating physicians at the Olympic village yesterday, FIFA has been highly acknowledged by the IOC Medical Commission. The large Beijing injury prevention study conducted by the IOC in all sports and nations is based on a recording system established at football competitions.
Sports organisations worldwide including the IOC aim at protecting the health of players, not only with regard to doping, but also to injuries. However, particularly in injury prevention, the scientific evidence on the frequency and characteristics of injuries in different sports is still scarce. Therefore, the physicians taking care of the athletes in Beijing are asked to report daily on all injuries as well as on their non-occurrence within their teams. Knowledge on injury details allows to design prevention programmes tailored to different sports.
However, such a multi-sport injury analysis is a demanding scientific challenge. In fact, injury recording is already an immensely exacting procedure within a sport. The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre F-MARC has developed a standard system which has become routine, providing information on football injury enabling more effective prevention. "It is an IOC obligation to know the injury risk in the different Olympic sports", said Per Renström, IOC Medical Commission in his introduction. "The work done by FIFA is landmark science in prevention."
Drawing from his vast experience, Prof. Jiri Dvorak, Chairman F-MARC and FIFA Chief Medical Officer, and Co-Director of the study, stressed that a cross study in different sports is a very ambitious project requiring the full commitment of all physicians and teams. He demonstrated the practical impact of such investigation by reference to head injuries in football. After F-MARC had shown elbow-to-head attacks being their most dangerous cause, referees were advised to sanction all these actions with a red card, leading to a considerable reduction in head injuries in matches.
According to first experiences at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 in team sports and at the IAAF World Championship 2007 Osaka, Dr Astrid Junge, Head of F-MARC, supported the IOC in the adoption of the recording system for multi-sports, and is now also responsible for the analysis of the data Beijing 2008. "The additional work load on you as the physician is limited", said Prof. Lars Engebretsen, Head IOC Scientific Activities. "But you will considerably gain as for the very first time you will learn about the frequency and characteristics of injury in the different sports at the Olympic Games."