Injury Incidence Increases after COVID-19 Infection: A Case Study with a Male Professional Football Team.
Abstract: Background: The SARS-CoV-2 virus disease has caused numerous changes in sports routines in the last two years, showing the influence on an increase in sports injuries. The aim of this study was to prospectively analyze the incidence and characteristics of injuries in male professional football players diagnosed with COVID-19 when they return to play after recovering from this illness. Methods: Injury characteristics of professional male football players were recorded for the 2020–2021 season following the international consensus statement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). SARS-CoV-2 infection in the football players was certified by PCR analysis. Injury epidemiology was compared in players infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus before and after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Results: 14 players (53.8%) were diagnosed with COVID-19 during 2020–2021 season and 12 (46.2%) were not infected (controls). Only three (21.4%) had suffered an injury before being diagnosed with COVID-19. Eleven players (78.6%) had injuries after being diagnosed with COVID-19 (p < 0.001). Among the players diagnosed with COVID-19, injury incidence increased on their return to play after the infection (3.8 to 12.4 injuries/1000 h of exposure, p < 0.001). Additionally, injury incidence during training (10.6 vs. 5.1 injuries/1000 h of exposure, p < 0.001) and matches (56.3 vs. 17.6 injuries/1000 h of exposure, p < 0.001) was ~two-fold higher on return to play after COVID-19 compared to controls (33.4 vs. 17.6 injuries/1000 h of exposure, respectively, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Injury incidence in professional football players who had been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus significantly increased compared to the injury rates that these same players had prior to the illness. Additionally, the injury incidence was higher when compared to players who were not infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the season, especially during matches
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