No relationship between Covid vaccination and sudden cardiac death in sport

A new rumor appears on social media claiming a relationship between the covid vaccination and sudden cardiac death in sport. Our medical director Prof. Tim Meyer and Dr. Florian Egger explain in the local news show "Aktuellen Bericht" (15.12.2021) why there is no scientific evidence for thus rumor. For many years Dr. Egger is thoroughly documenting cases of sudden cardiac death in sports and he says the data does not show any increase in cases since the Covid vaccination startet. You can find the report in German via (starting around 33 minutes). Details regarding the register can be found here.

New PhD Scholarship available: Digital support for return-to-play decisions in football

The International PhD Program “Science and Health in Football” awards 1 PhD Position (two-year doctoral scholarship, net 1.200 Euro per month; possible extension to a third year) on the research topic
Digital support for return-to-play decisions in soccer.

Research topic and project outline:
Digital support for decision-making in elite soccer faces a double challenge: In the lead-up, datadriven algorithms struggle to provide accurate predictions of relevant outcomes due to the mismatch between many influencing factors and the limited number of cases available. A relevant example is the risk of reinjury after return to play. At the same time, in reality the decision-making process itself is still highly subjective and poorly understood. This PhD project aims to tackle both challenges in the context of return-to play-decisions using a transdisciplinary approach. Predicting injuries after return-to-play: In situations without clear precedent humans still outperform machines and further improvements may be realized by aggregating the subjective judgements of several individuals. Therefore, a forecasting tournament for injury risk after returnto- play in professional German soccer is envisaged to be part of the project. Understanding how (successful) return-to-play decisions are made: Understanding the decisionmaking process is essential for providing adequate digital support and possibly recommendations for best practice. While this aspect has so far mainly been addressed from the perspective of sport science and rehabilitation, this project will additionally consider the psychology of human decision making.

The candidate
This transdisciplinary project in elite soccer touches on the fields of sport science, psychology, and data science. Experience with handling databases and mobile frameworks for App development is also required. The candidate should further provide knowledge of the psychological scientific work of Gigerenzer et al. on human decision-making behaviour under uncertainty and accordingly in the absence of information. Candidates with a master degree or equivalent and proven (cross-) competence in these fields are invited to apply.

The doctoral researchers will work under the co-supervision of PD Dr. Anne Hecksteden; Prof. Andreas Keller (co-supervisor), Dr. Michel Brink (University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. med. Tim Meyer (head of the PhD program and cosupervisor) and Dr. Thomas Hauser (Head of Medicine and Science, DFB-Academy). Dr. phil. Sabrina Forster (Skorski) will participate in the supervision as program coordinator. A multidisciplinary study program, including courses about the theoretical background of the research topic, practical work in performance diagnosis, teaching and transferable skills courses will complement the PhD project.


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The Accuracy of a Low-Cost GPS System during Football-Specific Movements

New paper from Emiel Schulze is published: A newly designed, low-cost GPS system was found accurate and reliable during football specific movements, making it a useful and affordable tool for sub-elite teams. 

Results of the FIFA Sudden Death Registry in worldwide Football (FIFA-SDR) published.

In cooperation with FIFA, sudden deaths in worldwide soccer have been registered and their causes investigated in a prospective observational study at the Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine at Saarland University since 2014.  Dr. Florian Egger (specialist in internal medicine) and Prof. Tim Meyer (medical director) have now published the first results in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 12/2020:

617 cases of professional and recreational soccer players from 67 countries were reported to the FIFA Registry of Deaths in Football (FIFA-SDR) between 2014 and 2018. Of these, 142 players (23 percent) survived after successful resuscitation. The registry included sudden cardiac deaths and cases with survived cardiac arrest, as well as injury-related deaths in soccer. The average age of the affected soccer players was 34 ± 16 years, and 96 percent were men. The main cause in players over 35 years of age was coronary artery disease (76 percent); in players under 35 years of age, it was autopsy-negative sudden unexplained death (22 percent).

Survival rate for resuscitation with and without defibrillator 85 percent of athletes who suffered sudden cardiac arrest and were treated immediately on scene with a lay defibrillator, an automated external defibrillator (AED), survived. In contrast, without treatment with an AED, the survival rate was only 35 percent. "This result shows how important it is to have a defibrillator on site at soccer fields and at all sports venues in general. It is at least as important to train the athletes, coaches and staff in resuscitation measures on a regular basis. In our study, soccer players were the most frequent first responders on site. They are the ones who save lives in the first place," says Dr. Florian Egger.



PhD Programme Science and Health in Football  - Introduction external PhD candidates Rilind Obertinca and Rina Meha

Injury Prevention in Football (Rilind Obertinca, Sports Physiotherapist, MSc, Kosovo)

Although football is one of the most popular sports worldwide, it carries a risk of injury for players, both at professional and amateur level and in all age-groups. Studies show that the number of injuries tends to increase with age, with most injuries being located in the lower extremities, particularly at the ankle, knee and thigh.

Given the high importance of injury prevention, recently, the focus on developing injury prevention programs has increased significantly. Some of these programs are designed to prevent specific injuries, such as ACL or hamstring injuries, while others are designed to prevent overall injuries in football.

The aim of this doctoral project is to devlope a new injury prevention program and to analyze its effect on prevention of overall injuries in football payers.

Rilind Obertinca holds a Master of Science in Sports Phyiotherapy from Lithuanian Sports University, Lithuania and a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from University of Prishtina, Kosovo.