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"Impftrain" - Study shows that vaccination against influenza can be safely and effectively performed in elite athletes

The term "Impftrain" combines the German word "Impfung" (=vaccine) and training and has been chosen as name for a study that has been funded by the German Federal Institute of Sport Science and has been conducted in the years 2016 - 2018. Findings are now completely published:

Ledo A, Schub D, Ziller C, Enders M, Stenger T, Gärtner BC, Schmidt T, Meyer T, Sester M (shared senior authorship): Elite athletes on regular training show more pronounced induction of vaccine-specific T-cells and antibodies after tetravalent influenza vaccination than controls. Brain Behav Immun 83, 2020: 135-145.

Stenger T, Ledo A, Ziller C, Schub D, Schmidt T, Enders M, Gärtner BC, Sester M, Meyer T (shared senior authorship): Timing of vaccination after training: immune response and side effects in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc: in press (epub ahead of print).

The combined working group of the departments for sports and preventive medicine (Prof. Meyer), transplant and infection immunology (Prof. Sester) and microbiology and hygiene (Prof. Gärtner) was able to show that elite athletes do not have an impaired immune response to an influenza vaccine. This has been speculated by several practitioners and scientists and is based on some experimental observations of immune cell populations being decreased within the first hours after intense exercise. Also, the study indicates that side effects from vaccination are not frequent and severe enough to interfere with training. Finally, no relevant difference in immune response or side effects was documented between vaccination shortly after training vs. one day later which is of high relevance for the medical care of elite athletes who usually train on a daily basis.

The authors summarize that influenza vaccination seems to be a safe and effective method of infection prophylaxis in elite athletes, and no constraints need to be applied for timing of vac- cinations in relation to their training sessions. This is very much in line with the conclusions of a prior review which two of the authors  have already published in 2014:

Gärtner B, Meyer T: Vaccination in elite athletes. Sports Med 44, 2014: 1361-1376

UEFA unveils heading guidelines for youth players

These heading guidelines are amongst other things based on the 'UEFA Heading Study', a multi-center study conducted in 8 European countries.

Beaudouin F, Gioftsidoiou A, Larsen MN, Lemmink K, Drust B, Modena R, Espinola JR, Meiu M, Vouillamoz M, Meyer T. The UEFA Heading Study: Heading incidence in children’s and youth’ football (soccer) in eight European countries. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports 2020.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.13694

Key points:

The purpose of this UEFA Heading Study was to examine the characteristics of heading in children’s and youth’ football (soccer) in eight European countries. The current data present the first real-life assessment of the heading incidence during match play and training in a large-scale Europe-wide sample of young football players.

  1. The lowest number of headers per match was observed in Under-10 teams, followed by Under-16 female and Under-12 teams, whereas Under-16 male teams experienced the highest heading exposures.
  2. Taking exposure time into account, the lowest incidence of heading was observed in Under-16 females.
  3. Considerable differences between countries were apparent.
  4. Very few head injuries (none of them heading-related) resulted in a low incidence rate.
  5. Under-10 teams carried out the lowest number of headers per training session, followed by Under-16 females, Under- 12, and Under-16 males.
  6. In contrast, when taking exposure times into consideration lower heading incidence rates were found in Under-16 females and males compared to Under-10 and Under-12.
  7. No head injury occurred during all training sessions.

 

https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/about-uefa/news/025e-0fb60fba795d-c82533...

PhD Programme Science and Health in Football  - Introduction Max Smith

Head Injuries in Football (Max Smith, Sport and exercise physiology, MSc, USA)

In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, concussion protocol was not observed to have been followed after 63% of head collision incidents in players showing 2 or more symptoms of concussion. This is not significantly different from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and remains an area of football that has yet to be taken seriously. As a global game there are varying levels of interpretation and required protocol throughout different federations. There is a need for the standardization of concussion protocol around the world and quality research to help make educated decisions on how players are treated and cared for. There are rule changes being made at youth levels eliminating or reducing heading without any empirical evidence to support such decisions. As retired footballers age there are questions being asked about cognitive deterioration or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) being associated with concussive or sub-concussive trauma from repeated blows to the head. The more the teams, officials, and parents are educated about the severity of head injuries in football, the more reporting and precautions we will hopefully start seeing around the world.

Therefore, the doctoral project will focus on investigating head injuries in football focusing on changes in cognitive function in youth and adult players, preventative measures to reduce number and severity of head injuries, and education of head injuries in football. This project is conducted in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Dr. Claus Reinsberger, neurologist and head of the Institute of Sports Medicine at University of Paderborn.

Max Smith holds a Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Science at Rocky Mountain College, USA. His main research interests are looking at the effect of head injuries in football, both preventative measures and effects on the athletes later on in life.

 

PhD Programme Science and Health in Football  - Introduction Cameron Scullard

Neuro-Athletic Training in Football (Cameron Scullard, Sport Scientist, MA Sport Science, South Africa)

Football can often be seen as one of the most physically demanding sports, not just in terms of the intensity and volume of movement, but also the quality of those movement patterns in which the body functions in order to enhance biomechanical performance and injury prevention.  The concept of neuro-athletic training involves the functioning of the neuronal processes, linked to the brain and nervous system, which control the effectiveness and efficiency of all motoric output in the form of bodily movement. Traditionally, football has had a distorted perception on the importance of neuronal sciences and its direct effect of optimizing physiological capacities and subsequent football-specific movements. The nature of football, with position-specific demands, incorporates the use of many sensory motor functions to allow for dynamic balance, reaction time, peripheral vision, rapid changes in speed and distance perception. The sensorimotor system utilizes the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive functions to guide player’s spatial awareness of the body, particularly in relation to the ball, other players and aerial duels.

Therefore, this doctoral project focuses on a scientific approach to investigating neuro-athletic training for the enhancement of physical performance and football-related injury surveillance and prevention. The main aim of the study is to investigate the effects of eye and balance sensorimotor-related exercises on neuronal and biomechanical deficits, as well as the performance diagnosis of football-specific movements. The project is conducted in collaboration with the Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB; German Football Federation) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Claus Reinsberger, neurologist and head of the Institute of Sports Medicine at University of Paderborn.

Cameron considers himself to be a highly determined and self-disciplined researcher who is always seeking opportunities to explore the field of sport science and learn from others. He has achieved a Bachelors and Masters of Sports Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa. His research experience has primarily focused on the Knowledge, attitudes and reporting behaviours of concussion injuries within school rugby. He also holds an honours degree in biokinetics from UKZN, and has been a registered as a private biokineticist specializing in orthopaedic injury rehabilitation for the past 2 years. Cameron has also worked as a Strength & Conditioning coach at two leading South African sports high-schools. His specific interests involve researching and applying injury preventative protocols to strength & conditioning setups.

 

PhD Programme Science and Health in Football  - Introduction Dolores Dravinec

Position Specific Nutrition for Elite Football Players (Dolores Dravinec, Performance Nutritionist, MSc, Croatia)

In the World Cup tournaments, the greatest number of goals is scored by strikers (~54%), followed by midfielders (~33%) and defenders (~2%). However, the goal is rarely scored by an individual player and therefore a great physical and tactical role of all players is important for the team success. Detailed analysis of soccer matches shows differences in physical and tactical activity between playing positions. Literature shows the position-specific variability in the overall running distances, number of high-intensity runs and sprints during a typical game. Player’s individual position in the match is additionally strongly influenced by the team's specific strategy and tactical definition, but also by a player’s physical profile and fitness level. Demands of a football match require the high level of aerobic energy production and large anaerobic energy turnovers, which consequently results in high energy expenditure. Position-specific physiological demands may potentially result in position specific energy requirements, which could be in that case supported by specifically prescribed nutrition.

Therefore, the doctoral project will focus on investigating the relation of position specific physiological requirements and related energy expenditure in elite football. The main aim of the study is to investigate weather differences in physiological position specific requirements result in the need for position specific nutrition to support the optimal football performance. This project is conducted in cooperation with the German Football Association (DFB) and the German Sport University Cologne (DSHS Köln).

Dolores is an ambitious and enthusiastic researcher and performance nutritionist registered with SENr Graduate. She holds MSc degree in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition from the Oxford Brookes University, UK and BSc degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Zagreb, Croatia. She participated at several international sport and nutrition related conferences seeking for new scientific approaches and its practical application on the field. She has experience working with individual football players and teams advising them on proper nutrition. Her main research interest is nutrition for soccer players, development of hydration strategies, supplementation in sport and performance in hot and humid environments.

 

"Impftrain" - Study shows that vaccination against influenza can be safely and effectively performed in elite athletes

The term "Impftrain" combines the German word "Impfung" (=vaccine) and training and has been chosen as name for a study that has been funded by the German Federal Institute of Sport Science and has been conducted in the years 2016 - 2018. Findings are now completely published:

Ledo A, Schub D, Ziller C, Enders M, Stenger T, Gärtner BC, Schmidt T, Meyer T, Sester M: Elite athletes on regular training show more pronounced induction of vaccine-specific T-cells and antibodies after tetravalent influenza vaccination than controls. Brain Behav Immun 83, 2020: 135-145.

Stenger T, Ledo A, Ziller C, Schub D, Schmidt T, Enders M, Gärtner BC, Sester M, Meyer T (shared senior authorship): Timing of vaccination after training: immune response and side effects in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc: in press (epub ahead of print).

The combined working group of the departments for sports and preventive medicine (Prof. Meyer), transplant and infection immunology (Prof. Sester) and microbiology and hygiene (Prof. Gärtner) was able to show that elite athletes do not have an impaired immune response to an influenza vaccine. This has been speculated by several practitioners and scientists and is based on some experimental observations of immune cell populations being decreased within the first hours after intense exercise. Also, the study indicates that side effects from vaccination are not frequent and severe enough to interfere with training. Finally, no relevant difference in immune response or side effects was documented between vaccination shortly after training vs. one day later which is of high relevance for the medical care of elite athletes who usually train on a daily basis. The authors summarize that influenza vaccination seems to be a safe and effective method of infection prophylaxis in elite athletes, and no constraints need to be applied for timing of vac- cinations in relation to their training sessions. This is very much in line with the conclusions of a prior review which two of the authors  have already published in 2014 (Gärtner B, Meyer T: Vaccination in elite athletes. Sports Med 44, 2014: 1361-1376)

 

Dr. Robert McCunn receives Eduard-Martin award

How can we protect sensible health data? How does bacteria stick to the surface? Can injury risk in elite football be predicted by a simple movement test? These are some of the questions that young researchers from Saarland University tried to answer during their PhD projects: On Wednesday the 16th of October eleven former PhD students will receive the Eduard-Martin award for exeptional scientific work. The event starts at 6 pm in the Graduate Center (C9 3) at Saarland University.

Robert McCunn has conducted his PhD thesis at the Institute of Sport and Preventive Medicince under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Tim Meyer, who is the team doctor of the German national football team since 2001. McCunns research on the potential prediction of injury risk in elite foorball might support coaches and athletes in their daily decisions. Specifically, he developed a movement screen including basic movements that might be related to an increased injury risk. Currently coaches already devide their players in groups with a supposedly high and low injury risk. However, the results by Robert McCunn - who is originally from Scottland - showed that this might not be necessary. „According to my research it is not possible to predict if a player gets injured or not. Instead coaches should include general exercises for injury prevention“, explains McCunn, who is now working as an applied sport scientist for the „Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club“ in Australia. For his research McCunn examined more than 300 semi-professional football players during pre-season using a basic movement screen. Within this he is using objective and subjective criteria to evaluate how well players jump, land or lunch. These results were than correlated with injuries duirng the season.

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New M. Sc. degree High-Performance Sport

The international Master of Science High-Performance Sport is hosted by the Institute of Sport Science and the Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine at Saarland University in Saarbruecken (Germany) and starts with the upcoming winter term (October 2018). It aims at qualifying sport scientists for jobs in professional and performance-oriented sport and for academic positions that focus on research fields relevant high-performance athletes. This international Master´s program has a regular duration of four semesters in which 120 ECTS (often referred to as ´Credit points´or CP in German) must be gained. The programme is accredited as a full-time, on-site degree programme. The number of participants is limited. In total, 20 places are available, and students can usually begin the Master´s programme at the winter semester of each year (October to March). Students with an undergraduate degree in sport science or related fields are allowed to apply. For more information on application requirements as well as deadlines visit master-high-performance-sport.de or download the flyer below.

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Sudden Death in Football (FIFA Registry)

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) officially launched a worldwide Sudden Death Registry (SDR) in January 2014 to document fatal events in football. The sudden death of an apparently healthy football player is an uncommon and tragic event which attracts media attention, especially when professional footballers are involved. Vigorous exertion increases the risk of fatal cardiac events by three- to four-fold, since it acts as a trigger for malignant arrhythmias in the presence of underlying cardiovascular diseases. However, overall, regular physical activity is associated with a protective effect even when considering the temporary hazards experienced during athletic activity. 

The aim of this registry (FIFA-SDR) is to detect the frequency of sudden death during football and to identify their causes as precisely as possible. Thus, existing screening and preventive measures will be improved or supplemented to help to prevent some of these deaths in the future. For further information or for reporting a case please follow the link.

 

Sudden Cardiac Death in Germany

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) of an apparently healthy athlete is a rare tragic event which attracts an abundance of media attention, especially when elite athletes are involved. Vigorous exertion increases the risk of SCD by the factor of 2.8, since it acts as a trigger for cardiac arrest in the presence of underlying cardiovascular diseases. Unusually high exercise intensities increase the relative risk of SCD, especially in recreational athletes with a poor training condition or in individuals who are in the early phase of returning to exercise. However, overall, regular physical activity is associated with a protective effect even when considering the temporary hazards experienced during athletic activity. 

The aim of this register (SCD Germany) is to detect the actual magnitude of sudden death and survived cardiac death during sport and to identify their causes as precisely as possible. Thus, existing screening and preventive measures will be improved or supplemented to help prevent some of these deaths in the future. For further information about the projects or to report a case please follow the link.

 

"Check every single case carefully." Prof. Tim Meyer about using defibrillatoren in sport 
Medical miracle, a incalcuable risk, favourable pre-conditions? The story about Daniel Engelbrecht (24) produced a lot of attention in German media. As the first German professional footballer ever he played a game for the Stuttgarter Kickers with an implanted defibrillator. Is this a one-time success story? Or a story that gives hope to many other patients suffering from heart diseases? The German national team physician Prof. Dr. Tim Meyer gives answers to this. The detailled interview can be found on DFB.de (only in German).