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Potential Long-Term Impact For Young People With Sports Injuries

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A new study in Canada has looked at how sport-related knee injuries in young people can impact on long-term joint health and functionality.

In particular, the researchers at the University of Calgary wanted to examine the association between sports injuries and the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) three to ten years after the initial injury.

PTOA commonly affects the knee joint, with the risk increasing substantially after a joint injury. But little research has been done into PTOA outcomes early in the period between joint injury and disease onset.

The researchers hope that improved understanding of the interval between joint injury and disease onset can inform secondary prevention strategies aimed at preventing and/or delaying PTOA progression.

The study involved 100 individuals aged 15-26 years, half of whom had sustained a sport-related intra-articular knee injury three to ten years previously. The other 50 participants were uninjured age, sex and sport matched controls.

Results revealed that injured participants demonstrated poorer outcomes on the Knee Osteoarthritis and Injury Outcome Score (KOOS), which measures pain, other symptoms, function in daily living, function in sport/recreation and knee-related quality of life. They were also more likely to be overweight/obese and had lower triple single-leg hop scores compared to controls.

In an article published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, the authors concluded: “This study provides preliminary evidence that youth/young adults following sport-related knee injury report more symptoms and poorer function, and are at greater risk of being overweight/obese 3-10 years post-injury compared to matched uninjured controls.”