Background: A cruciate ligament (CL) injury is a severe injury in soccer. Neuromuscular training programs have a well-documented preventive effect, but there are few studies on the effectiveness of such a program at a national level. The Swedish Knee Control Program (KCP) was found to be effective in preventing CL injuries in youth female soccer players. The KCP was implemented nationwide in Sweden in 2010.
Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Swedish KCP in reducing acute knee injuries in soccer players at a nationwide level.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: All licensed soccer players in Sweden are covered by the same insurance company. Using this insurance database, around 17,500 acute knee injuries that were reported to the insurance company between 2006 and 2015 were included in the study. By matching the number of licensed soccer players with the number of reported injuries each year, the annual incidence of knee and CL injuries was able to be calculated. To evaluate the spread of the KCP nationally, a questionnaire was sent to all 24 Swedish district football associations (FAs) with questions regarding KCP education. The number of downloads of the KCP mobile application (app) was obtained.
Results: The incidence of CL injuries decreased during the study period for both male (from 2.9 to 2.4 per 1000 player-years) and female players (from 4.9 to 3.9 per 1000 player-years). The overall incidence of knee injuries decreased in both male (from 5.6 to 4.6 per 1000 player-years) and female players (from 8.7 to 6.4 per 1000 player-years). Comparing before and after the nationwide implementation of the KCP, there was a decrease in the incidence of CL injuries by 6% (rate ratio [RR], 0.94 [95% CI, 0.89-0.98]) in male players and 13% (RR, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.81-0.92]) in female players and a decrease in the incidence of knee injuries by 8% (RR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.89-0.96]) and 21% (RR, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.75-0.83]), respectively (P < .01 for all). This trend corresponded to a reduction of approximately 100 CL injuries each year in Sweden. A total of 21 of 24 district FAs held organized KCP educational courses during the study period. The percentage of district FAs holding KCP courses was between 46% and 79% each year. There were 101,236 downloads of the KCP app.
Conclusion: The KCP can be considered partially implemented nationwide, and the incidence of knee and CL injuries has decreased in both sexes at a nationwide level.
Keywords: coach education; cruciate ligament; injury prevention; insurance data; nationwide implementation.