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Three Young Investigators win EFSMA’s biannual Awards

| February 2008

We are delighted to congratulate the three 2007 winners of the bi-annual EFSMA Young Investigator’s Award which were presented at the EFSMA Congress of Sports Medicine in Prague last October.

The two awards, sponsored by DJO/Aircast  are open to sports physicians under 40 and judged by the Young Investigators Committee which is made up of five members of the EFSMA Executive Committee and two representatives of the Congress’ Scientific Committee and chaired by Prof. Christer Rolf, Chairman of the EFSMA Scientific and Education Commission. The abstracts and oral presentations are judged on the level of scientific contribution demonstrated by each candidate in his own professional field of interest.

The first award for the best scientific presentation in the field of traumatology, orthopaedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation resulted in a draw as the judges felt that two of the candidates’ presentations were of an equal standard.

The first joint winner is Robert Grech, a State Registered Physiotherapist working with the Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community Care in Malta. He also lectures in Sports Science at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and has been involved with local Premier League Football clubs and Athletics Teams. His main interest is sport rehabilitation and sports biomechanics. His study, “Arch height and Repetitive Strain Injuries”, investigated the association between the incidence of repetitive strain injuries and the height of the medial longitudinal arch in competitive runners. The height of the medial longitudinal arch was measured in a group of injured athletes and in a matched non injured control group.



From left to right: Eva Topole, Professor Fabio Pigozzi, Robert Grech and Hayri Ertan.

In this retrospective case control study, the null hypothesis states that there is no difference in the 'arch height ratio' between injured cases and the matched, non-injured controls. The study revealed that on average, the injured patients had a higher arch height ratio than the matched non-injured controls. The Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test showed statistical significance in the data. 

The second joint winner is Eva Topole, MD. Based at the Laboratory for Respiratory Physiology at The University Clinic of Pulmonary and Allergic Diseases in Slovenija, her winning study focused on “Risk Factors for Injuries in Male Volleyball Players”. Volleyball is a relatively low injury risk sport; incidence ranges from 0,9 to 2,6 per 1,000 hours played. Injuries are sport specific and mainly include ankles and fingers and overuse injuries of the knee and shoulder. They occur in a discipline specific pattern, mostly at the net, during landing from blocking and during spiking.

Eva explained: “In our study, which was conducted as part of the National Injury Prevention Programme in Slovenia which involves more than 3,000 sportsmen and women, we tested 38 male volleyball players all from league A or B. We performed bilateral isokinetic testing at speed 60/sec, balance testing and measurement of active range of motion in dorsal and plantar flexion of ankle.

“Our main findings indicated that increasing strength of plantar flexors can be an important predictor of ankle sprain in volleyball players as well as the decreased range of motion in dorsal flexion. These results suggested that increasing strength of plantar flexors puts volleyball players at higher risk of ankle sprains. Injured players also had higher DF/PF ratio in the range of 30-40, while non-injured players had this ratio in the range of 26-46. The importance of antagonist/agonist ratio was also correlated with other traumatic leg injuries in other sports disciplines. However, it has never been shown whether these high antagonist to agonist ratios are injury risk factors or sequels from previous injury.  All our injured players had a slightly lower overall stability index that might also contribute to incidence of injuries.

“Landing from blocking or spiking in the conflict area demands coupling between eccentric and concentric calf muscle activities. Landing badly from a jump is a common injury mechanism not only in volleyball but also in basketball. It is a complex task and requires good coordination, dynamic muscle control and flexibility, and the height of the jump increases those demands. We found that the players that scored better on the isokinetic tests and had greater concentric strength of plantar flexors could jump higher.”

The second Award is for the best scientific presentation in the field of sports medicine, internal medicine and exercise physiology and this went to Hayri Ertan, MD from the Middle East Technical University’s Physical Education and Sports Department in Turkey. His paper investigated the “Individual Variation of Bowstring Release in Olympic Archery: A comparative case study”.

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